What Is Holistic Addiction Recovery?

Holistic healing has become something of a buzzword, but is it just a trend or is there substance to this phenomenon?

While a holistic approach to addiction treatment is one of the best ways to ensure long-lasting recovery from addiction, not all treatment centers implement holistic techniques effectively or in the same way. It’s important to know what to look for in a holistic program as you’re evaluating treatment options.

What Is Holistic Healing?

When the term “holistic” is used in the context of addiction treatment and recovery, it can mean one of two things:

  1. That holistic or homeopathic methods like yoga, meditation, etc. are added as a supplement to a traditional rehab program, or
  2. The entire addiction treatment program is designed to treat the whole person – mind, body and spirit.

Holistic, or non-traditional, techniques that are commonly used in rehab are:

  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Yoga and other types of exercise
  • Healthy eating and nutrition education
  • Reiki and other types of energy medicine
  • Acupuncture and acupressure
  • Art, music and writing therapy
  • Experiential therapy (group outings, usually outdoors)
  • Animal therapy (such as equine-assisted therapy)

Most of these holistic techniques have been proven by scientific research to provide real benefits to those going through addiction treatment. Others, like reiki, have less scientific backing but are offered because there are no harmful effects, and some patients and practitioners believe in the power of the technique, perhaps giving it the power of the placebo effect.

Adding these techniques into a traditional addiction treatment program does provide added benefits for clients. However, the very best way to use holistic treatment is as an integrated approach alongside proven clinical and traditional methods.

Hybrid Approach to Clinical and Holistic Addiction Recovery

While there are certain common elements in all types of addiction, there is also a great deal of variation in how each individual experiences addiction, including:

  • The type of addiction(s)
  • The factors that led to the addiction
  • How it’s impacting the person’s life
  • Individual beliefs and motivations
  • The specific triggers, influences and pressures that can support or derail recovery

What a Comprehensive Holistic Program Consists Of

A comprehensive addiction treatment program will be highly customized to fit each individual’s needs, and will combine proven clinical and holistic therapies. The goal of this type of program is to heal the client physically, mentally and emotionally, using a variety of treatment methods – each of which provides a specific type of healing.

An addiction recovery program that focuses on healing the whole person may include therapies such as:

  • Medically supervised detox
  • Healthy meals and nutrition counseling
  • One-on-one counseling from a licensed psychologist
  • Group therapy sessions or 12-step meetings
  • Spiritual counseling
  • Meditative time to relax and reflect
  • Education on how to avoid triggers and relapse
  • Yoga and mindfulness training
  • Fun and beneficial exercise routines
  • Targeted types of therapy – cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, equine-assisted therapy, etc.

The Benefits of Mind-Body-Spirit Healing in Addiction

A truly holistic approach to treatment will provide numerous benefits to clients, including:

  • Tools and strategies for making lifestyle changes that support long-term recovery
  • An understanding of what led to addiction and how to prevent a reoccurrence
  • Greater confidence and commitment to staying sober
  • Reduced likelihood of relapse

Not only does a comprehensive holistic approach make treatment more effective, it also sets clients up for greater success when they leave rehab, giving them greater responsibility for maintaining their own sobriety.

Top 3 Holistic Healing Practices for Addiction Recovery

Next, let’s look at three of the most commonly used holistic practices that have been found to be highly effective in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction:

  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Nutrition
  • Yoga

What Is Mindfulness and Meditation?

Meditation is the practice of stilling the body and mind in order to experience peace and tranquility. It is usually done in a sitting position, or in a relaxed pose such as during a yoga session.

Mindfulness is the practice of keeping one’s focus on the present moment, without thinking about the past or future. Unlike meditation, mindfulness can be practiced while actively moving about. This makes it an ideal form of semi-meditation that can be used at any moment, regardless of the circumstances.

Both mindfulness and meditation involve three key components:

  • Present-moment awareness: Staying in the present moment allows one to avoid the worry and anxiety that often comes with dwelling on past experiences or trying to anticipate the future.
  • Relaxed focus: A relaxed focus allows the mind to wander freely without stress or a need to accomplish anything, which in turn relaxes the body.
  • Non-judgment: Letting go of judgment removes the disappointment we feel when life doesn’t meet our expectations, and is especially powerful when letting go of self-judgment.

Meditation and mindfulness can be used daily or on a moment-by-moment basis to deal with cravings and upsetting people and situations. It’s a great way to cultivate a sense of grounded peace that helps one stay true to higher goals and values.

Learn more about meditation for addiction recovery here: 8 Types of Meditation for Addiction Recovery

How Does Nutrition Aid in Addiction Recovery?

Addictive substances can interfere with normal chemical processes and can lead to nutrient imbalances in in the body. This makes proper nutrition a key focus of addiction recovery.

During treatment, a rehab center should provide healthy, balanced meals – preferably tailored to each individual’s needs. There should also be nutrition education to help clients know which kinds of food they need to provide for themselves when they leave the treatment facility.

Simply experiencing healthy eating daily for a month or more may provide the real-life evidence clients need to prove that great nutrition really does make a big difference. Even those who have very busy lives can find ways to hire professionals to provide healthy meals once they return home. 

If you or someone you love suffers from alcoholism or addiction stemming from anxiety, here are some additional resources on how the right nutrition can help:

Diet to Recover from Alcoholism

Anxiety in Rehab: 10 Foods that Help Keep You Calm

Benefits of Yoga During Addiction Treatment

Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that nevertheless provides significant benefits in terms of strength and flexibility. It is also a form of mindfulness exercise that keeps the client focused on the body’s movements in the present moment.

Addiction, and some of the situations that lead to addiction, often causes people to disconnect from their body. They disrespect their health and ignore the signs from their body that things are out of balance.

Yoga helps people to pay attention to their body again. Reestablishing the connection between mind and body is important because respecting one’s body is a key component of long-term recovery.

Even people who’ve never done yoga before or are out of shape can easily learn yoga at the beginner level. And those who have practiced it before can find the right level to challenge them during a formal rehab program.

Luxury Holistic Rehab for Executives and High-Profile Individuals

There are many types of addiction, and every individual’s experience with addiction is unique. As a result, there are many different approaches and therapies that professionals use to treat drug and alcohol addiction. Each individual deserves an addiction treatment program tailored to his or her specific needs.

An individualized, comprehensive approach that combines proven holistic techniques with the top clinical methods helps ensure long-lasting recovery. For people with high-powered careers and high-powered lives, this approach is the longest-lasting and most reliable way to get them out of addiction and into the life they really want to live.

Learn About The Dunes’ Holistic Program