Holistic therapy is often used along with traditional evidence-based therapies to treat substance addiction.
Yet many people are not really sure what holistic therapies are or how they are used in the treatment process.
What Do the Words Holistic and Holism Mean?
The word holistic refers to the belief that all of the body’s systems are viewed as one entity instead of unrelated, separate systems. Holism is the term used to describe the practice, meaning all of the different parts of the body support the well-being and overall health of the person by working together as one.
When a holistic approach to healing is used to treat a drug or alcohol addiction, the treatment involves treating the body as a whole. It’s based on the idea that to have the most successful outcome the body, mind, and spirit of the person must all be healthy.
Understanding Holistic Therapy
Holistic therapy is sometimes referred to as integrative therapy, complementary therapy, or alternative treatments. In Principles of Holistic Medicine, The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine states “holistic medicine is 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.”
Substance abuse programs that incorporate holistic therapies are based on a model that integrates mental, physical, and spiritual treatments. These therapies and techniques are often based on practices that came from cultural traditions or are defined as being close to nature.
The use of holistic therapies and holistic medicine is increasing in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, more than one-third of the adults in the country use some type of holistic treatment or medicine.
Types of Holistic Therapies
From art therapy to exercise, there are many different types of holistic therapies that encompass different aspects of living a healthy life.
Substance abuse often leads to poor nutrition that results from eating foods that do not contain the proper nutrients or not eating enough during the day. Healthy nutrition and hydration are essential to the healing process because they help restore mental and physical health.
Using music to influence the way a person’s brain functions is called music therapy. This type of holistic therapy is generally used along with other therapies. It is a non-threatening way of helping individuals suffering with a drug or alcohol addiction get rid of emotions that are destructive and uncover issues that are deeply buried.
Dance Movement Therapy
Dance movement therapy is defined by the American Dance Therapy Association “as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual.”
This type of expressive holistic therapy is especially helpful for those individuals with a substance abuse addiction who are unable to express themselves verbally in talk therapies. They may find it difficult to describe their experiences in words but be more willing to open up when exposed to therapeutic movement.
Meditation has many healing effects. For some people, it is a very spiritual practice. For others, it is a way to relax without any expectations or pressure.
In addition to the spiritual and emotional benefits of meditation, there are also many physical benefits, such as enhanced mental acuity, increased energy, lowered heart rate, and increased blood flow. The steady slow breathing helps to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. This can improve concentration and provide an overall sense of well-being and peace of mind.
Additional Treatment Options
Additional examples of holistic therapy include
- Spiritual counseling
- Exercise routines
- Acupressure and acupuncture
- Massage therapy
- Reiki and other types of energy work
- Tai Chi
- Herbal medicine
- Biofeedback and neurofeedback
- Art therapy
Primary Goals of Holistic Therapy
One of the primary goals of holistic therapy is identifying the underlying causes of addiction. Additional goals include:
- Increasing self-confidence
- Promoting physical fitness and overall good health
- Strengthening resistance to cravings
- Reducing the appeal of using drugs and alcohol
Incorporating Holistic Therapies in an Addiction Recovery Program
When looking for a substance abuse treatment program, it is important to find one that offers a combination of traditional and holistic therapies into its recovery plan. For example, Canyon Vista Recovery Center, in Mesa, Arizona, provides residents with a full continuum of care that combines traditional and holistic therapies, life skills, nutritional guidance, family healing, and extended care treatment.