Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a whole-person problem. It is more than chemical: addiction affects and is affected by spiritual and emotional health; the health of your social and family connections.

While certain individuals must seek medical treatment prior to rehabilitation owing to the intensity of withdrawal and potentially fatal consequences, this should never be the end of treatment but only the start. Wherever possible, clients should explore holistic options as well.

Holistic Treatment for Addiction

What is holistic treatment? This is an approach which involves mind, body, and spirit. Your doctor can write a prescription for medication or check you into a detox clinic. A counselor will help you explore the reasons you succumbed to substance abuse in the first place. A pastor or priest prays with people. In some cases, people are able to combine these elements of treatment independently by approaching the appropriate professional at the right time to receive a certain element of care.

Many addicts, however, are too confused to seek help this way. They need it to be presented to them in a format that has been pre-arranged and made available in one place. They seek help from a holistic rehabilitation center. These places are dedicated to supporting the whole individual, often on an in-patient basis. In-patient centers also remove recovering addicts from toxic situations which contribute to bad life choices: abusive relationships and peer pressure, for instance.

Holistic Centers

There are various types of holistic centers, some more alternative than others. A mainstream approach would be to follow medical detox with counseling and psychotherapy. During group counseling sessions, individuals talk together in gender-specific (sometimes age-specific) groups about the situations which led to their trying and abusing opiates, methamphetamines, cocaine, or alcohol. These groups are guided by a psychiatrist or counselor. Participants share their feelings and stories in a confidential setting, potentially developing long-term friendships and support to take with them after leaving rehab.

During one-on-one counseling, a professional would delve into deep-seated mental health problems which led to substance abuse. Common problems leading to reliance on drugs and alcohol include post-traumatic stress disorder caused by spousal or child abuse, sexual abuse, serving in the military, or surviving a life-threatening experience. Bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, anxiety, and schizophrenia are also contributing factors which are either triggered by abusing drugs and alcohol or might lead to chemical experimentation out of desperation to find relief from symptoms.

A number of these centers incorporate some kind of spiritual element like prayer. Christian groups require participants to join services although they are not expected to profess any kind of belief. These people often find rest in these quiet, meditative times, also offered by centers run on Eastern spiritual principles.

Alternative Therapies

Therapists will also explore ways to overcome physical and emotional damage using animal therapy, nutritional therapy, and Chinese medicine. Examples include acupuncture, therapeutic massage, changes in diet, exercise, and yoga.

Clients might try cleansing with Ayurveda, herbal remedies, and other non-Western approaches to detox before they start other therapies in preference to hospitalization or sedated withdrawal. Clinicians focus on detoxifying at the cellular level and teaching the body to repair itself with healthy eating plus meditation and energizing fitness routines.

They might also encourage participants to form relationships with horses or dolphins. These trust-building exercises inspire change because they bring joy while also building a sense of responsibility. Trust works both ways between therapeutic animals and the recovering addicts who care for them during their stay in rehab.

Many clinicians believe these methods of therapy are especially helpful for individuals who feel they cannot speak about things that happened to them or that they have done, especially PTSD survivors remembering abuse during their childhood or military veterans who watched friends torn apart by bullets and bombs.

Most holistic centers, alternative or relatively mainstream, charge fees for participation. These tend to be rather high for the average person recovering from substance abuse.

Outpatient Services

While in-patient treatment is highly recommended for severe cases during the early weeks of rehabilitation, even a few months, holistic outpatient treatment is also encouraged and can take many forms. Clients are able to maintain recovery by visiting holistic centers near their homes. These include acupuncturists, hypnotherapists, and herbalists. They are also urged to continue seeing a counselor if mental health issues persist.

Joining a church or synagogue also helps many men and women maintain recovery as they find, in these institutions, structure, peace, love, and forgiveness. Meanwhile, recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous with sponsorship arrangements promote accountability and provide a source of empathetic partnership on the road to recovery.