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Contrary to what one may believe, there are many factors that can contribute to the development of substance use disorder (SUD). Similarly, there is no one-size-fits-all for treatment and recovery. Effective treatment for SUD must target all aspects of an individual’s condition, not just the symptoms of their substance abuse. Fortunately, holistic healing aims to treat the whole person. 

The Many Causes of SUD

SUD develops when someone is dependent on drugs or alcohol after prolonged use. Not only does the person become physically dependent upon the substances, but their mind also becomes dependent as well.

Because of the way substances interfere with brain structure and functioning, a person cannot process thoughts and emotions appropriately after substance abuse. Their body begins to rely on the chemicals produced by alcohol and other drugs for pleasure. 

SUDs affect many aspects of a person’s well-being and life in general. There are many reasons why an individual might turn to alcohol and drug use initially. For example, one person may start drinking because their parents had parties where substances were constantly available. Another person might start using drugs in an attempt to relieve mental and emotional pain that may surface from a traumatic experience.

Risk Factors for SUD

Research shows that there are many factors that can contribute to the development of SUD. Risk factors can be associated with one’s biology, environment, and exposure to substance abuse or mental disorders early in life.

Specific examples of contributing risk factors for SUD include:

  • Generations of substance abuse
  • Growing up in poverty 
  • Being raised by parents with limited education or knowledge of child development 
  • Growing up in isolation
  • Growing up in a community with a lot of drug use and violence

These only scratch the surface of risk factors associated with substance abuse and SUD. Another common contributing risk factor is trauma or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Trauma-Informed Care

To provide efficient and thoughtful holistic healing, providers and treatment centers should be versed in trauma-informed care. Trauma-informed care (TIC) includes:

  • Realizing the likelihood that a person will have experienced some type of trauma in their lifetime
  • Recognizing how trauma affects all individuals involved in treatment, including staff, clients, doctors, etc. 
  • Responding by using compassion and knowledge to influence trauma treatment practices and attitudes

By having an understanding of the impacts of trauma, treatment facilities can provide “psychological, emotional, and physical safety,” according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Holistic Healing for Substance Use Disorders

With an understanding of trauma-informed care, a provider or treatment center can engage in holistic healing for clients with SUD. Holistic healing is a treatment approach that considers and addresses all aspects of an individual’s health. This approach is not only used to treat SUD but can also be applied to co-occurring mental health disorders.

All aspects of an individual’s life can be altered by trauma. To effectively heal from SUD and any underlying trauma, a person will need to utilize a treatment that addresses their mind, body, and spirit in tandem.

Different Types of Holistic Healing

The whole person needs attention and care to fully heal from SUD. By practicing holistic healing, a person can engage in various different types of treatment to help them heal fully. 

Addiction Treatment

Many addiction treatment programs utilize holistic healing as part of their programs. Participating in a treatment program can help individuals better control and manage cravings. Through a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or intensive outpatient program (IOP), a person can receive professional assistance and guidance to achieve long-lasting healing.

While in a treatment program, individuals can benefit from peer support. Peer support can be vital for recovery as it can provide:

  • Support through treatment 
  • Comfort through validation
  • The normalization of personal struggles
  • New perspectives on treatment and recovery

In a treatment program, a person is almost never alone. With a plethora of activities, including group therapies, individual therapy, and skill-building courses, an individual can keep their goal of sobriety at the highest priortity, limiting any outside distractions. By utilizing different activities and therapies, a person may obtain a sustainable recovery. 

Body Movement

Exercise, or moving your body, is a great holistic way of working through thoughts, painful memories, anxiety, and depression. By moving your body in enjoyable ways – not merely just sticking to an exercise routine – you not only work out your body but your mind as well. Studies have shown that body movement and exercise decrease anxiety and depression. 

Additionally, since SUD inevitably harms an individual’s body, body movement can help restore muscle and flexibility that may have been lost as a result of substance abuse. In turn, body movement can help decrease chronic pains, aches, and even withdrawal symptoms.


Mindfulness is simply the act of being aware. When a person meditates or simply sits with their thoughts, they are able to truly feel their emotions. Trauma does not only affect the mind but the body as well. By allowing oneself to feel their emotions, a person can begin to work through trauma instead of holding it inside and letting it build up. When trauma is left unresolved and stored in the body, a person will turn to inappropriate coping mechanisms, like substance abuse. Meditation and mindfulness can combat these destructive behaviors. 

Has traditional talk therapy not worked to help you recover from substance abuse? Do you find yourself relapsing but want to reach sobriety? At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, we offer different treatment options to meet your individual needs. Whether you need a highly structured program or guidance with aftercare, we have a program to fit you. We offer beautiful and well-equipped homes for sober living, small groups for personalized care, and programs designed for your unique needs. At Lighthouse Recovery, you will work with the best-in-class staff that surpasses industry standards. If you or a loved one is seeking professional support, call (214) 396-0259. We look forward to helping you achieve long-term sobriety.