At Alpine Recovery Lodge, we firmly believe that the people who come to us for help are more than their addictions. They are whole people with passions, dreams, ambitions, and people who love them.
For that reason, we also believe that it’s essential to treat our patients as people and not merely as addicts.
Just as you would not ignore the emotional needs of a person who has been diagnosed with cancer or any other disease, we choose to take the same approach with people who need help fighting addiction.
What is Holistic Treatment?
Holistic healing is a form of addiction treatment that looks at the patient’s health from all angles: physical, mental, and emotional. Also sometimes spelled as “wholistic,” this form of treatment is one that includes traditional medical treatments as well as various forms of emotional and behavioral therapy.
When treating addiction, holistic healing acknowledges that while addiction must be treated as a physical problem, the root issues that lead a patient to drug or alcohol abuse are often emotional or interpersonal.
Patients who receive holistic treatment learn the root causes of their addictive behavior. Because holistic treatment focuses on creating overall good health for the patient, it often includes things like:
- Behavioral therapy
- Nutritional therapy
In many cases, the patients themselves play a role in choosing the forms of holistic treatment that are most likely to lead them out of addiction and onto the road to recovery.
With that in mind, here are the five reasons we believe that a holistic approach to rehab gives patients the best possible chance of success as they work to overcome their addictions.
Reason #1: Holistic Rehab Treats the Patient’s Body
Since addiction is a physical condition, any effective rehabilitation program must begin by treating the patient’s physical addiction to their drug(s) of choice.
Holistic rehab occurs in a traditional rehab setting. It incorporates the usual rehab steps of detoxification, individual therapy, and group therapy with additional therapies and treatments. That means that patients who get therapy in a holistic environment get the traditional treatments they need.
In addition to detoxification, holistic treatments may include options to help patients repair the damage that drugs have done to their bodies. For example, they might learn about healthy eating. They might learn yoga to help them deal with aches and pains related to addiction (or in some cases, to the chronic pain that led them to abuse prescription drugs.)
Things like massage and acupuncture may also be incorporated into holistic rehab. These treatments can provide a way for patients to learn about their bodies and understand that their physical health is important for their recovery.
Reason #2: Holistic Rehab Treats the Patient’s Mind
The root causes of addiction are often psychological. It isn’t uncommon for patients who struggle with addiction to come from backgrounds where they have experienced physical or emotional abuse.
We frequently see patients who have a dual diagnosis of addiction and depression. A holistic approach to therapy ensures that patients who struggle with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia get the treatment they need to heal.
Various forms of talk therapy, in both an individual and a group environment, can help patients deal with their underlying psychological issues. In many cases, that may include coping with previous traumatic experiences.
For significant trauma, patients may benefit from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, also known as EMDR. It has been shown to be particularly effective for people who have post-traumatic stress.
Reason #3: Holistic Rehab Treats the Patient’s Spirit
The process of becoming addicted to drugs and then going to rehab can be emotionally draining and disheartening for many patients. Some feel that they have failed because they were unable to overcome their addiction on their own.
One of the biggest benefits of holistic treatment for addiction is that it helps patients learn coping mechanisms that help them deal with their emotions in a healthy and beneficial way.
For example, many holistic rehab programs teach patients yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices that help them get in touch with their emotional needs and learn how to cope with negative emotions.
It’s not unusual for patients in recovery to be resistant, at least initially, to the idea of spiritual treatments like these.
However, over time, many of them embrace these treatments enthusiastically. They learn that spending a short time in meditation each day, for example, can help relieve stress and anxiety. It can calm them deeply and help them cope with the difficulties of rehab.
Many of the people who come to us for treatment have very low self-esteem. They have lost touch with who they are and what they need as people.
Taking a holistic approach can help them reconnect with themselves in a meaningful way and learn how to respect themselves again.
Reason #4: Holistic Treatment is Highly Individualized
The problem with cookie cutter treatments for addiction is that they are homogenized to the point of ineffectiveness. Each patient who comes to us is unique, and we recognize that what works for one patient may not work for another.
Holistic treatment offers patients a wide variety of options to choose from. If they try one therapy and it doesn’t help them, they can try something else.
For example, a patient who tries acupuncture and dislikes it may decide to try Reiki next. Herbal treatments may be effective for some patients, while yoga may be ideal for others.
Not only does holistic therapy give patients the opportunity to try out a variety of therapies and treatments, but it also sets them up for success when they leave rehab.
When a patient understands which therapies and treatments make them feel good about themselves, they can seek them out in the outside world and use them as a way of coping with cravings and triggers.
Ultimately, each one of our patients has to move out of rehab and back to their lives. The holistic approach encourages them to build a system of support and treatment that will help them avoid relapses into addiction. The individualized nature of holistic treatment is ideally suited to helping patients as they move out of rehab.
Reason #5: Holistic Rehab Helps Patients Understand Themselves
Many of the patients who come to us at Alpine Recovery Lodge have lost sight of who they are. They don’t have much ability to move through the world in a healthy way.
The reason is that using drugs as a coping mechanism does many negative things at once. For example:
- It numbs emotions and prevents addicts from dealing with their feelings in a productive way. Essentially, addicts tend to run from negative feelings. They don’t learn how to process them, and that can lead to significant problems in times of stress or anxiety.
- Drug use can become a crutch in an addict’s interpersonal relationships. When people in their lives express worry or concern about their addiction or other behavior, they simply retreat to drugs as a way of escaping. As a result, their relationships may be in tatters by the time they seek treatment.
- Drug addicts are highly attuned to their need for their drugs of choice, but less in tune with the needs of their bodies and minds. It’s not uncommon for drug users to neglect their physical health. They may eat extremely unhealthy diets, skip going to the doctor, and avoid exercise.
- Many drugs can exacerbate or mask underlying mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. For example, patients who struggle with depression may fall deeper into depression as a result of alcohol abuse or feel that they aren’t depressed because they use stimulants.
All of these issues will remain problematic for an addict unless they are addressed in rehab. That’s where the holistic approach comes in.
Patients who attend a rehab center that uses a holistic approach learn about themselves in a deep and meaningful way. They reconnect with their bodies, minds, and spirits.
One technique that goes a long way toward teaching recovering addicts how to deal with their emotions and interpersonal relationships is mindfulness.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction or MBSR is a technique that can be extremely helpful for both addicts and their families. Since addiction can put a significant strain on interpersonal relationships, an important part of holistic treatment for addiction is helping patients reconnect with family members and friends.
Mindfulness training helps patients learn how to view their emotions dispassionately and recognize them without allowing them to rule the day. They learn how to acknowledge negative emotions like anger, jealousy, and sadness in a healthy way.
At the same time, they also learn about themselves in connection with other people. They can see how their behavior – including their addiction – has negatively impacted other people in their lives. Over time, mindfulness can help them repair those relationships and build new relationships as they rebuild their lives.
Ultimately, holistic drug rehab helps patients by providing them with an array of tools and mechanisms to help them get control of their addiction.
By acknowledging the patient as a whole person and treating their bodies, minds, and spirits at the same time, holistic rehab allows patients to reconnect with themselves and their emotions in a deep and meaningful way.
At Alpine Recovery Lodge, we want all of our patients in addiction recovery to have the best possible chance of success. If you’d like to learn more about our addiction treatments, please click here.