Can holistic approach be used in treatment programs?
Any facility that chooses to use the holistic label can do so, even if the facility does not provide holistic therapies at all. That means people looking for holistic help will need to thoroughly research the options open to them. They will need to ask about the therapies offered, the training of the people providing the therapies, and the cost of care. That is the best way to determine if the facility in question can really deliver relief.
Table of Contents
A continuing trend in healthcare for the past few decades has been holistic treatment for a wide range of ailments.
Substance abuse and addiction treatment is no exception to this, as a variety of holistic drug treatment programs exist in rehab centers around the US.
There is disagreement on how helpful these types of treatment are for achieving recovery from addiction. Seemingly, there is no body of research that has verified the effectiveness of these treatments; on the other hand, there is research, such as an article from the journal Psychiatric Services, demonstrating that a person’s satisfaction with treatment is a motivator to remain in treatment and complete a program, both of which are key factors for achieving and maintaining recovery in the long-term.
In many instances, holistic therapies, such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and massage, are used to augment more traditional addiction treatment therapies, like individual counseling, behavioral therapies, and medical detox.
What Is a Holistic Treatment Program?According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, more than a third of adults in the US use some form of holistic medicine, and the trend seems to be expanding.
In general, holistic rehab programs look at an integrated physical, mental, and spiritual model for treating substance abuse and addiction. These techniques are also often referred to as alternative or complementary treatments, and they are often based on practices that are defined as being close to nature or derived from cultural traditions. Examples of these include:
- Acupuncture and acupressure
- Reiki and other types of energy work
- Yoga and meditation
- Herbal medicines
- Biofeedback and neurofeedback
- Nutritional therapy
These are just some of the wide range of treatments described as holistic. The key similarity between them is that they are intended, at the root, to treat the whole person rather than only a single element of an individual’s symptoms or behaviors. Similarly, effective addiction treatment should address the entire individual and not just the behavioral aspect of the addiction. The goal is to address the underlying reasons that led to the destructive behavior in the first place.
As reported in Pastoral Psychology, a survey of addiction rehab centers revealed that a third had some form of holistic treatment offering, as they defined it; specifically, 58 percent of those centers used meditation as part of treatment. These modalities are often used in concert with treatment in the 12-Step model, and they are complementary to other treatments.
Holistic addiction treatment aims to deal with several factors that are considered by these programs to contribute to addiction. These aspects include:
- Physical symptoms of addiction and withdrawal
- Emotional imbalance that can lead to substance abuse
- A lack of spiritual grounding that can make the bliss of drugs desirable
- Unhealthy eating habits, resulting in neurochemical imbalance
- Environmental toxins or contaminants that result in a need for the substance that gets out of control
In some cases, these therapies may even include looking at energetic imbalance, which is then treated through body-energy manipulation, such as Reiki.
In most cases, these treatments are used alongside more conventional therapies. Some centers claim that the holistic program is the best way to treat addiction to provide lasting recovery. It is generally recommended that holistic therapies are used in combination with evidence-based treatment.
Those who are looking into holistic treatment programs may find it difficult to find research backing the efficacy of such treatments. Not a lot of research has been done on various holistic therapies, and the research that does exist is often inconclusive. For this reason, the effectiveness of the techniques in supporting lasting recovery from addiction is still largely unknown, and it is sometimes hotly argued.
For example, a Psychology Today article states that some experts believe there’s no evidence that holistic treatments either provide effective treatment or tip the odds toward longer-term recovery. However, the same article also suggests that there is benefit from holistic treatments because they might make a person more receptive to treatment in general.
Holistic treatments attract people who might otherwise not be interested in conventional treatments, make them more comfortable with entering treatment, and may make them more willing to try other, research-based treatments that provide a greater likelihood of long-term recovery. In addition, the use of these therapies can help people feel more at ease, more productive in their treatment response, and generally better able to cope with the challenges of detox and rehab. For these reasons, holistic practices can be a positive complement to the more research-based modalities that experts consider to have a greater chance of resulting in lasting abstinence from addictive drugs.
Holistic and Conventional Care in Combination
Most experts agree that conventional, research-based detox and treatment for addiction, provided through a residential program, is more likely to support an individual in maintaining recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that the treatment approaches that are