Addiction is something that affects a person’s mind, body and spirit and the very definition of the word ‘holistic’ implies that these are intimately interconnected and explicable only by referencing the whole. This has become a popular belief in alcohol rehab centers and drug detox programs in recent years and now holistic medicine – also known as alternative or complementary therapy – is increasingly offered in alcoholism treatment programs with considerable success.
According to the Center for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, detox centers that incorporate holistic therapies with conventional approaches are proven to be more effective, particularly over the long term in recovery. It is now widely believed by medical professionals that holistic approaches are very helpful when used as adjuncts to evidence-based alcoholism treatment programs.
What Is Holistic Addiction Treatment?
Holistic therapies focus on treating the mind, body, and spirit, whereas conventional medicine concentrates entirely on physical illness. Holistic therapies are considered to be so effective because they provide a ‘bridge’ between the treatment of a patient’s physical condition and their emotional and psychological healing.
There are several holistic therapies that are particularly useful in alcohol addiction treatment centers when paired with traditional approaches including:
Yoga is a mindfulness practice that also increases physical fitness and flexibility, making it highly effective as a coping mechanism in recovery from addiction. Many people become addicted when they are searching for ways to cope with anxiety, stress or mental illness and so yoga is the perfect way for people in alcohol rehab facilities to learn more positive coping skills that also provide invaluable support in recovery.
The Benefits of Yoga
It Heals The Mind: Scientific research undertaken by Stanford University into the biological impact of yoga on drug abuse has shown that yoga serves to inhibit the dopamine surge that addicts usually get from using and also restrict cravings. At the same time, the study showed that the deep breathing element of yoga releases pleasure-giving endorphins, which means that it is possible to use the practice to replace or suppress addictive behaviors in recovery.
It Heals The Body: Yoga is much more physically demanding than it looks. It’s an invaluable tool for promoting physical health, making it a key contributor in improving the fitness levels of someone whose body has suffered the ravages of addiction. In addition to increased flexibility and muscle strength, Yoga can also enhance circulation, respiration, organ performance, and many other crucial elements of our body’s internal system.
It Heals The Spirit: One of the aspects of yoga that makes it such a popular practice in detox centers is that it provides a spiritual environment that is very tranquil and serene. No matter what a person’s religious beliefs, we all need to achieve a state of quiet in which we can learn how to be more mindful and accepting in our daily lives. Yoga also arms patients with the tools they need to connect with their own inner strengths.
It Reduces Stress: For many people in drug detox centers, addictive behavior and cravings can be triggered by stressful situations known as stressors. In fact, many people leaving a treatment center after completing a program find it difficult to adjust to living in sobriety. Because yoga is a mindfulness practice that teaches how to control breathing to reduce stress levels, it allows recovering addicts to regain control of their bodies and overcome temptation.
It Helps Develop New Habits and Relationships: When patients are taught yoga, they are introduced to a new community that’s dedicated to staying healthy, which is an enormous benefit in recovery. Having others around you who are also trying to find balance and develop new, healthy habits can go a long way in your recovery process. That sense of companionship and accountability will help you and others achieve your goals of recovery and a healthy lifestyle.
Meditation is a mindfulness practice – but what exactly does that mean? Derived from Buddhism, which has embraced mindfulness for more than 2000 years, it is defined as being consciously aware of your thoughts, feelings and sensory experience. According to science, the structural and functional changes in the brain – known as neuroplasticity – are caused by experience and are directly affected by meditation practice.
Basically, what that means is that by taking time out to meditate regularly, we become capable of creating the right kind of experience (or feeling) to support more positive behaviors. Meditation at a drug rehab center works on the principle that every time we connect with the moment we are in and completely empty the mind of dialogue, our capacity to enjoy more positive thoughts and feelings grows.
The Benefits of Meditation
It Instills Discipline: There is a considerable amount of willpower required to meditate, which is extremely beneficial in an addiction rehab program. Meditation requires the ability to concentrate one’s attention on the present moment, although as an observer rather than a participant. This requires discipline and means that there can be no internal dialogue. It can take some time and practice to achieve a state where one’s mind is completely silent.
It Teaches Mindfulness: The main objective of meditation is to learn how to be mindful of thoughts and emotions in order to promote self-acceptance. We are influenced by our thoughts much more than we realize although most are formed in response to things that happen in our daily lives or something we’re reading or watching. Meditation provides the space to clear the mind of all conversation and helps people understand that we are much more than our thoughts.
It Harnesses The Mental State: Meditation provides both therapists and patients with a tool to harness the patient’s mental state, allowing the patient to keep centered and utilize the methods and treatments taught to them. This can help lead to a number of additional mental benefits, including:
- Improved attention, concentration, and focus
- The ability to discover character strengths
- Cultivates resilience to stressors and cravings
- Increases someone’s basal happiness levels for a more fulfilling life
- Reduces stress and eases symptoms of mental illness
Since the beginning of time, humans have possessed a kinship with nature. Gardening is, by its very nature, a slow and relaxed process that takes place outside, in the sun, and among nature. Enjoying the great outdoors fills us with feelings of peace and tranquility, which is why garden therapy has become popular in addiction treatment. Several scientific studies have shown that gardening heightens our feelings of appreciation and serenity and ultimately improves overall health and well being.
Also known as Horticultural Therapy, Garden Therapy uses gardening activities, plants and the natural world as vehicles for specialist rehab programs. Patients in opiate detox centers benefit from not only the physical exertion of gardening but also the relaxation, enjoyment, skill development, creative expression, and emotional well being.
The Benefits of Garden Therapy
It Acts As a Coping Mechanism: Using gardening in therapy is designed to replace self-destructive urges with healthier ones, providing a calm and relaxing outlet for patients who need to get their addiction out of mind.
It Helps Develop a Sense of Responsibility: Gardening nurtures new life from seed to maturity. Patients can learn how to take care of and be responsible for a living thing by taking care of its daily needs. This can help increase the awareness of one’s obligations in life, as well as their overall sense of self.
It Provides a Sense of Community: In addition to teaching you new skills and improving your well being, Garden Therapy also introduces patients to a new community of people who share similar interests. Gardeners are invariably enthusiasts who have a passion for their hobby and recovering addicts can benefit significantly from the opportunities for social interaction an interest in gardening offers.
A strong element of addicts’ issues is connected to interpersonal problems. Relationship issues with anyone, not just romantic, are often an inciting point for relapses and binges, and the most significant consequences of addiction can be the damage done to an addict’s relationship with those around them.
Equine-Assisted Therapy provides those struggling with addiction with a companion that won’t judge and won’t be hurt by their actions. The goal is to teach patients how to build healthy relationships while working through any emotional or psychological issues in a safe and comfortable environment.
The Benefits of Equine Therapy
It Strengthens Emotional Awareness: Spending time outside with beautiful, non-judgmental creatures like horses can help patients become more aware of their emotional state. This allows for deeper insight into their feelings, behaviors, boundaries, and stumbling blocks to recovery.
It Builds Self-Esteem: Equine therapy provides metaphoric experiences that stimulates emotional and personal growth, as well as builds confidence over time.
It Improves Relationships: By strengthening emotional awareness and improving one’s self-esteem, addicts will be better-equipped to work on their relationships with others. Equine therapy not only gives you the tools to improve a relationship, but helps define what a healthy relationship should look like.
It is not completely understood how acupuncture works although it has been established that the practice affects dopamine production in the brain, which is the reason it is considered beneficial by drug rehab centers. The brain’s dopaminergic system is behind the creation of feelings of euphoria and pleasure, which are also the induced when someone uses drugs. Acupuncture works by increasing both negative and positive reinforcement of drug use which ultimately leads to the elimination of cravings.
Acupuncture reinforces the properties of drugs in the following ways:
- Dopamine production is restricted when drugs are used and effectively diminishes their effects
- Withdrawal symptoms are reduced in severity by inhibiting gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA neurons and increasing the release of dopamine
There are five pressure points in the ear that are used in acupuncture at drug and alcohol rehab centers and each targets a specific area as follows:
Shen Men point: Also known as ‘heaven’s gate’, Shen Men is the point on the ear that produces feelings of euphoria when stimulated. It is located towards the top of the ear or in medical terms, the apex of the triangular fossa. This point in acupuncture is acknowledged for healing physical pain or conditions of the central nervous system.
Sympathetic Autonomic point: This point of the ear affects certain aspects of brain activity, feelings of determination (willpower) and also hormone levels. When stimulated this point allows patients more clarity in their thought processes and also restores feelings of optimism which is highly beneficial for people in drug detox centers.
Kidney point: Many acupuncture practitioners believe that the kidney point is the center of yin and yang in the human body. By stimulating this point of the ear, it is possible to restore balance to the body’s main systems including the digestive, immune and respiratory so that they are more effective in contributing to the healing process.
Liver point: The consequence of prolonged addiction can be significant damage to the liver although it is the only one of the body’s organs to be capable of regeneration. That said, the right conditions have to be present for the liver to be able to regenerate which is where acupuncture is very useful. When this part of the ear is stimulated, the liver’s healing process is assisted as it deals with eliminating toxins and repairing cells.
Lung point: This point of the ear deals with circulation and stimulating the area improves this while oxygenating the body to life feelings of depression, anxiety or grief. Many people in drug and alcohol detox centers also suffer from a mental health condition and acupuncture is very effective in the treatment of these dual-diagnosis cases.
What Are The Unique Benefits of Holistic Recovery?
Patients attending treatment programs that incorporate holistic therapies with conventional medicine receive some unique benefits. One of the most important is that a combined holistic and traditional approach to addiction treatment is more likely to result in long-term sobriety and less likelihood of relapse.
It is now widely recognized that drug and alcohol detox centers offering holistic treatment have the following benefits:
1. Complements and Improves Traditional Medicine
The main benefit of holistic therapy in addiction treatment is that it provides a bridge between physical healing and the rehabilitation of mind and spirit for an overall approach. For some people who may be overly anxious about the prospect of detox, a holistic recovery program at an opiate detox center can provide them with a route to sobriety that they might not otherwise have pursued. These people may be more comfortable in a rehab environment where there are holistic and experiential treatments being offered alongside more traditional approaches.
2. Opportunities for Participants to Develop New Skills
Holistic therapies generally equip patients with the tools to enable them to cope with recovery. Encouraging patients to occupy themselves in a new hobby and acquire new skills is a positive contribution to long-term sobriety.
3. Prepares Patients for a Change in Lifestyle
A significant advantage of holistic recovery is that patients develop the skills they need to protect themselves against relapse. Mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga can be used for many years after someone has left rehab.
4. Studies Support Holistic Recovery Programs
There are now numerous scientific studies and research reports that have established holistic remedies as being effective in helping people overcome addiction, particularly as an adjunct to traditional approaches.
Examples of some of the very diverse studies include the following:
- 2002 – The American Public Health Association reported that holistic therapies are particularly effective for individuals with a history of multiple relapses.
- 2013 – The Complementary Therapies in Medicine publication concluded that holistic practices such as yoga and meditation reduced the risk of relapse in later life.
- 2014 – The Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment pointed at considerable evidence that holistic medicine significantly enhances addiction counseling and therapy.
- 2015 – In a report by the Australian Journal of Primary Health, mental and physical health were found to be intimately interconnected and the general principles of holistic medicine were supported.
How Can Holistic Medicine Help Recovery and Does It Work?
In summary, holistic therapies can help in addiction treatment in the following ways:
- Helps patients manage cravings and even eliminate them completely
- Reduces the severity of withdrawal for a more manageable detox experience
- Lowers stress levels and reduces tension
- Eases insomnia, anxiety, and depression
- Improves eating habits and leads to healthier behavior
- Places the focus on well being, making it a priority in recovery
- Builds a solid foundation for better spiritual health
Everyone has their own unique set of requirements and preferences when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Holistic therapies can be useful in providing effective alternatives that are more appealing to patients than a program based purely on conventional approaches.
Ranch Creek Recovery in Murrieta, CA offers a number of holistic treatment programs that are customized to fit the unique needs of our patients. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today by filling out a form or by calling (877) 997-8931 to speak to a representative.