Are Holistic Therapies Effective in Addiction Treatment?
Holistic therapies have been increasingly incorporated into addiction treatment programs in recent years and have recognized potential for being highly effective for long-term recovery. The word ‘holistic’ refers to the treatment of the whole person in terms of mind, body and spirit and therapies are combined with traditional medical approaches in individualized holistic drug and alcohol treatment programs to maximize results.
Sometimes referred to as complementary or alternative treatments, holistic therapies used in holistic treatment for alcohol include acupuncture, equine-assisted therapy, yoga, Neurofeedback, Reiki and meditation among other practices. When used in holistic alcohol treatment in combination with medical therapies, these approaches can provide patients with effective coping mechanisms for a life in recovery.
The Benefits of Holistic Drug and Alcohol Treatment
Studies have shown holistic therapies to be particularly beneficial in treating addiction to prescription drugs, an issue that is at a crisis point in the US today. This is because they offer an alternative to traditional medications for chronic pain that allow sufferers to manage their symptoms without reliance on taking prescribed medications.
The majority of people currently combating dependence or addiction on opiate-based medications were originally prescribed them to reduce the symptoms of injury, disease or illness causing chronic pain. It’s natural that over time, the body develops a tolerance to the pain-killing effects of opiates, which is when sufferers commonly begin to ‘need’ progressively higher doses.
When this happens and someone is unable to get an increased dose from their physician, they often resort to buying heroin on the streets to satisfy their compulsive cravings to use.
Holistic therapies taught in holistic alcohol treatment centers are proven to be highly effective in arming patients with invaluable coping mechanisms for when they return to their daily lives after rehab. For example, someone in holistic treatment for alcoholism could have been self-medicating for pain with alcohol or drugs and through learning a mindfulness practice such as yoga; they can find other ways to manage their symptoms in recovery.
Healing the Mind with Holistic Therapy
Holistic treatment for alcoholism introduces an important dimension to addiction treatment, with its focus on a patient’s mind, body, and spirit. The part of the brain that is most damaged by addiction is the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the following functions:
- The ability to make logical decisions and choices
- Control of impulsive behavior
- Regulation of emotions
- The ability to feel empathy
When someone has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, the prefrontal cortex becomes much weaker than the part of their brain that craves substances. Holistic treatment for alcoholism has proven to be invaluable in strengthening the prefrontal cortex and restoring brain function to a point where a patient is more able to consciously choose not to use drugs or alcohol.
Healing the Body with Holistic Therapy
Holistic therapies all share a physical element. Whether it be through massage, acupuncture or Reiki they all offer patients complete relaxation to promote physical wellbeing. Other holistic practices such as yoga or Tai Chi focus more on exercising the body and can significantly improve fitness levels.
One of the main issues of long-term drug or alcohol use is that the body starts to deteriorate in different areas. The heart becomes weaker than it should be, while the nerves and muscle tissue become damaged by substance abuse. In some severe cases, a patient can suffer from Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS if their bodies have not been allowed to heal during holistic treatment for alcoholism.
Mindfulness holistic practices like yoga and meditation teach patients at holistic alcohol treatment centers to focus on their breathing while remaining present in the moment. When they have completed holistic alcohol treatment, many find the techniques they learned from holistic therapies invaluable in preventing relapse.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of holistic drug and alcohol treatment is that there is a wide variety of activities and practices available. This makes it easier for rehab centers to create completely personalized holistic alcohol treatment programs that patients are more likely to respond well to. The road to recovery can seem very long and daunting for people entering a holistic alcohol treatment center for the first time and holistic therapies go a long way to making the process much more comfortable.
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