Someone who was enrolled at an addiction treatment center 20+ years ago may be very surprised at how programs are designed today. Back then, a lot of programs were solely focused on addressing addiction on a physical level. The goal was to get drugs out of the system and provide some stability to help a person stay sober in the following weeks. But that was the extent of the treatment.
Over the last few decades, a lot has changed in addiction treatment. A different approach showed promise for helping more patients overcome substance use disorders. Many in the medical community began encouraging addiction recovery centers to take a holistic approach that focused on total wellness beyond the physical symptoms of addiction.
The holistic approach has proven to be a more in-depth way to treat addiction that doesn’t just focus on one part of the disease. It’s an approach that’s been highly effective at helping people reduce the risk of relapse and achieve long-term sobriety.
What Does Holistic Mean?
The term “holistic” has both philosophical and medical meanings. In terms of treating addiction, the various types of holistic definitions can apply.
The philosophic definition of holistic is “comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.”
The medical definition of holistic is “characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.”
There’s also a more clinical definition of holistic “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts”
These are the basic definitions that are applied to many things from dentistry to addiction treatment. For each specialty, there’s a unique holistic approach.
What Makes Addiction Treatment Holistic?
Addiction treatment centers that aim to treat the whole person body, mind and spirit are considered holistic. They take an approach that acknowledges all three are interconnected and true healing is only possible when body, mind and spirit are in a positive place.
There are two categories of holistic addiction treatment:
Ancillary treatments that support overall wellbeing. This can include a wide variety of therapies from acupuncture to biofeedback to art therapy. Which type of holistic ancillary services are included in an addiction treatment plan should be tailored to the individual.
There’s also something in addiction treatment called holistic psychotherapy. This is what some in the medical community use to describe treatment programs that combine psychotherapy like cognitive behavior therapy and supportive services that increase overall wellbeing.
An example of a holistic addiction treatment plan would be one that includes:
- Individual psychotherapy with a certified counselor or psychiatrist.
- Recovery coaching from a peer mentor.
- Group therapy with peers.
- Practicing meditation daily.
- Physical activity or an exercise regimen.
- Doing breathing exercises.
- Equine therapy once a week.
- Adjusting diet so that it is nutritional and meets caloric needs.
- Taking medications to manage addiction symptoms.
As you can see in the example, holistic addiction treatment involves a spectrum of modalities that aren’t just about getting drugs out of the system. They’re about healing the whole person and addressing why they began using drugs or alcohol. Trauma, stressors and triggers need to be examined so that they don’t lead to future substance abuse.
Why a Holistic Approach is Effective for Addiction
When evidence-based psychotherapy is paired with ancillary holistic therapies it can have a powerful effect. Addiction affects a person on every level. The physical effects are the most obvious, but the problem is much more widespread. That means addiction treatment must be about overall wellness rather than treating a particular symptom.
Much of the time addiction is the result of mental health issues or trauma that has gone unaddressed. Therefore, if you don’t put focus on identifying all of the psychological factors along with the triggers and behaviors that develop from them relapse is highly likely once treatment ends.
Including Family in Holistic Addiction Treatment
At some addiction recovery centers, holistic treatment plans involve family members. Much of the time, family members are like an extension of the patient. Stress, trauma, poor communication, enabling and codependency between the patient and a family member can be detrimental to recovery. Without addressing issues and concerns within the relationship, holistic healing might not be possible.
At our Dallas addiction center, we stress the importance of family involvement. Even if none of the factors above exist, simply showing a willingness to put in the work alongside a loved one can help them get through recovery.
Lighthouse Recovery isn’t like a lot of Dallas addiction centers. We take a holistic, customized approach to addiction treatment. Our treatment plans are based on the client’s unique medical history, needs and goals. Through evidence-based modalities, we address each contributing factor so that the whole person can heal from addiction.