There are many different programs that can be considered holistic therapy options for individuals in addiction recovery. These are programs that go beyond the evidence-based treatments of medication and behavioral therapy to the more individualized and personal therapeutic options that help certain individuals achieve their most successful recoveries.
What Is Holistic Therapy?
Holistic therapies are non-evidence-based treatment modalities for addiction recovery. These usually include programs that are not associated with talk therapy or medications and that use different methods of helping individuals avoid relapse and build a strong recovery. Holistic therapies can include many different types of programs, but they are normally helpful for those who have trouble expressing themselves in regular therapy.
Holistic programs are often best as supplemental treatment options used in tandem with evidence-based practices. Some of the most popular include
- Art therapy
- Dance therapy
- Movement therapy
- Leisure and recreational activities
- Spiritual development
- Cultural awareness and appreciation
- Exercise therapy
- Animal/pet therapy
- Gardening therapy
- Herbal therapy
- Virtual reality therapy
- Massage therapy
- Music therapy
- Coloring therapy
- Performance/acting therapy
- Biofeedback therapy
- Wilderness/adventure therapy
- Recreation therapy
Many people also consider additional programs like nutritional counseling, vocational guidance and resume building, and educational, housing, and relationship help to be types of holistic therapy. The goal of these programs is to treat the whole individual rather than simply focusing on minimizing a set of symptoms and to help the person achieve a better life through new and effective activities and treatments.
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How Does Holistic Therapy Work?
Holistic therapy programs are varied and vast, and as such, they can do many different things to help recovering addicts make positive changes in their lives. Different programs can work for different individuals and it is always best to consider the patient’s needs when choosing a holistic therapy.
- According to a study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, holistic therapies have been known to help patients build a strong sense of self-identity. These programs can teach an individual a new skill, which allows them to understand their own emotions better through their work. In addition, it can boost their self-esteem and confidence when they hone their new knowledge.
- Holistic modalities can be especially beneficial for those who have trouble with traditional therapy. Not everyone can talk for long periods of time about their feelings, and many do not understand why they feel or act the way they do. Holistic programs allow individuals an opportunity to consider their actions and feelings through a different lens, the lens of the particular activity. This might make it easier for them to understand and even express their feelings.
- Different holistic programs can be extremely beneficial for individuals who are struggling with a number of severe symptoms for which there is no other suitable treatment. For example, acupuncture or massage therapy can be helpful to those who experience pain after quitting substance abuse. Pet or animal therapy can help patients work through cravings, feelings of grief, etc.
- Certain patients—such as women, adolescents, LGBTQ patients, and others—have specific needs during recovery that can be hard to meet with the evidence-based practices associated with addiction (Journal of Addiction Nursing). Programs like art therapy can help these individuals work through difficult feelings, traumas, or other unique issues. Holistic programs can be more sensitive to the needs of certain individuals while behavioral therapy can be more basic.
- Some holistic methods simply promote good health, which is necessary during addiction recovery. Nutritional counseling, exercise therapy, and other programs can remind patients of how to take good care of their bodies while in recovery. Exercises like yoga have physical and mental health benefits and can be done with other individuals, which adds a layer of community involvement to one’s recovery.
Every patient responds differently to treatment, so having a number of additional options available can be helpful in the long run. Holistic therapies are all about finding the balance between a particular program and a patient. These programs can often fill the gaps that regular treatment cannot.
No one holistic approach is effective for every patient, just like with evidence-based approaches. However, patients who believe one of these approaches could be helpful to their recovery should seek it out.
When Should Holistic Therapy Begin?
Depending on the modality you choose, holistic treatment can begin as early as detox or as late as aftercare. You may want to start the treatment during your withdrawal if it will be helpful with your symptoms. Pet, biofeedback, and massage therapy can all be beneficial programs for those experiencing uncomfortable symptoms.
It should all depend on your particular situation and if you are ready for a certain therapy program at that moment. For example, you may want to avoid turning to wilderness therapy until you are through the worst of your withdrawal symptoms and feeling more stabilized.
How Long Does Holistic Therapy Last?
Holistic therapy can last as long as you need it to in many cases. Some individuals visit their treatment centers or stay in a facility that offers programs like massage therapy, acupuncture, or hypnosis while others may receive these treatments in another office. Some individuals enjoy yoga and continue going to classes during aftercare. It is important to continue the program for as long as it helps you.
Where Can I Find Holistic Therapy?
Evidence-based approaches to addiction treatment are almost always essential, as stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, but most detox and rehab centers offer at least some kind of holistic option nowadays. You only need to find the program that provides the options you seek.
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