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What Roles Do Holistic Activities Play In Recovery From Addiction?

What Roles Do Holistic Activities Play In Recovery From Addiction?


What Is Holistic Therapy?

Holistic therapy is something that is often misunderstood by many people. While some forms of holistic therapy use alternative medicine and even natural treatments, it’s much more complex than those suggestions would indicate. In the article “Principles of Holistic Medicine” written by experts at the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, holistic medicine and therapy is described as the “…art and science of healing that addresses the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease, and most importantly, to promote optimal health. This condition of holistic health is defined as the unlimited and unimpeded free flow of life force energy through body, mind, and spirit.” [inline_cta_one] Holistic therapy programming has been applied to treat various ailments and some of these activities are also being extended  to aid in the addiction recovery process.  Whether or not you believe in the “free flow of life energy,” holistic activities may be useful because it attacks addiction on several different levels. Principles of holistic medicine as defined by the American Holistic Health Association, include:

  • The use of safe and effective therapeutic options
  • Integrating medical, educational, dietary, psychological, spiritual and physical healing methods into each treatment
  • Trying to find the root of the disease, rather than just treating the symptoms
  • Treating all diseases as a result of a dysfunction in the person, rather than a singular event
  • Encouragement of patient autonomy and communication between physician and patient
  • Unconditional love between patient, loved ones and the physician
  • Supporting constant growth mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually of the patient

Traditional evidence-based treatment modalities are the focus of our treatment programs, but holistic activities are used to enhance the recovery process and promote better overall well-being.

Holistic Approach to Recovery

To better understand holistic activities and how they may assist those in addiction recovery, let’s take a look at a method described in the paper “An Holistic Approach To Substance Use Treatment.” In this medical essay, the authors explore several different treatments and how they were adapted to the holistic model. For example, they discuss the way that individual, group and family therapy was paired with dance, Tai Chi, art, and spiritual lessons. In the essay, they state that: “Holistic approaches to addiction and alcoholism can be of great assistance throughout the stages of recovery. From detoxification to reducing stress and improving mental and physical well-being, holistic approaches play a vital role in regaining personal balance… Recent scientific studies have demonstrated dramatically improved success rates with the addition of holistic treatment approaches.” In the paper, they discuss how individual and group therapy intertwines with art to help draw the cause of a person’s addiction to the surface. While the symptoms of addiction (such as withdrawal) were treated, the cause and the underlying root were focused on heavily. For example, individual therapy helps a person touch on personal issues that cause addiction and gives them the chance to work through each issue with a trained specialist. On the other hand,  art activities for addiction may enhance a person’s well-being by letting them express themselves creatively. This might help boost self-esteem, enhance inner, personal monologue, and bring a greater sense of joy into the person’s life. In the second chapter of the book Systematic Review And Economic Modeling Of The Clinical Effectiveness And Cost-Effectiveness Of Art Therapy Among People With Non-Psychotic Mental Health Disorders, art programming was found to combat depression, anxiety, boost mood, decrease trauma symptoms, increase positive coping mechanisms and boost cognitive intellect.

Alternative Approaches That Are Often Integrated Into Holistic Treatments

Although holistic programming requires traditional medical therapies; it also allows you to integrate a variety of alternative approaches into your treatment. Some popular alternative programs for addiction include: 

  • Acupuncture – The ancient Asian art of needle insertion that may help reduce withdrawal and detoxification symptoms, while also managing the cravings and muscle aches that come with recovery.
  • Hypnosis – Medical hypnosis varies from the theatrical stage variety in that it is used to impress powerful instructions directly into your subconscious mind. It may help eliminate your need for drugs and improve your self-esteem.
  • Meditation and Prayer – These two methods are similar and require intense concentration on yourself in an attempt to reach a higher state of understanding. They often give people with addiction the focus and support they need to recover.
  • Biofeedback – This treatment uses machines that test your brain waves and help you better understand the state of mind you experience when you are having craving symptoms. This can help you better fight this problem.
  • Herbal therapy – Herbs such as ginseng, kaya, and valerian are used to increase detoxification effectiveness, generate relaxation during anxious moments and as a sleep aid for drug use-related insomnia.
  • Yoga – The ancient art of stretching, breathing, meditation and relaxation may increase your flexibility, calm your mind, and increases your personal understanding. It creates a sense of calm that gives you a great center from which to base your recovery.

Talk with your rehab specialist before implementing any of these methods in order to find one that works for you. There are a variety of requirements for performing many of these, such as the physical strength to perform yoga, that must be taken into account before jumping in fully.

Integrating Holistic Treatments Into Other Recovery Methods

Holistic treatment options, such as yoga and acupuncture, can’t be used as a singular treatment method. Remember, holistic activities are designed to be a supplemental part of addiction recovery, rather than a complete treatment. As a result, you and your therapist need to work hard to integrate holistic activities into your lifestyle and rehabilitation experience in order to maximize their effectiveness. First of all, you need to start by improving your physical health. Obviously, traditional withdrawal techniques will be necessary, as will a strict and healthy dietary plan and regular exercise. Physical exercise promotes better mental stability by encouraging greater blood flow and increasing awareness of your surroundings. Yoga, jogging and swimming are crucial here. However, you also need to manage your physical pain. Traditional painkillers are a major help, but yoga, stretching exercises and even acupuncture can help eliminate much pain. Integrating more natural treatments can help reduce or nix your need for medical painkillers and naturally promotes healing in a way that you can’t achieve with any other method. Your emotional well-being must also be cared for via psychotherapy, mental health treatments, behavioral adjustments and relaxation techniques. Meditation goes so well with traditional treatments, as does journaling, because they force you to look at yourself honestly and appraise your addiction. They also help eliminate anxiety and other negative forces from your life, giving you a more balanced state of mind and a firmer grasp on reality. One of the most neglected or misunderstood aspects of recovery is the spiritual element. Many people think that they must belong to a specific religion or that they must follow certain rules. This isn’t exactly right. The spiritual elements of addiction recovery, as enhanced by holistic treatments such as meditation and various spirituality sessions, are designed to get in touch with your own sense of spirituality.

Holistic Therapy Is A Vital Healing Tool

As you can see, holistic therapy is an engaging and powerful way to recover from addiction. It takes care of you with a totality you can’t receive with any other method. By giving you a loving helping hand, holistic therapy will pull you through the hard times. If you or anyone you love is interested in using holistic therapy, please don’t hesitate to contact us today at Vertava Health Texas. We can help you sort through your options and connect you with a therapy center that will give you the healing help you need to master your addiction and emerge from it as a fresh new person.