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Holistic Addiction Treatment Programs

Group of people in a holistic treatment class

If you have issues with drug or alcohol abuse, you have experienced firsthand how the abused substances can significantly impact your brain and behavior. Drugs and alcohol provide rewarding and pleasurable feelings that further motivate you to continue to abuse them, but substance addiction robs you of your self-control as the drug abuse becomes compulsive. As addiction develops, this compulsive behavior increases in intensity and frequency, even when negative consequences occur as a direct result.

Quitting drugs or alcohol can be extremely challenging because of the physical and psychological power of the substances. Moving away from addiction and toward recovery is a difficult process that can be eased by professional drug addiction treatment programs.

Though many varieties of substance abuse treatment can exist, if you want a whole-person approach to recovery, you might consider a holistic addiction treatment program.

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What Is Holistic Treatment?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommend that substance abuse treatments target addiction and wellness in comprehensive ways.1,2

Holistic treatment is a term used to describe any substance abuse treatment program that focuses on improving the wellbeing of the entire person, not just addressing their substance abuse issues. They promote wellness of the mind, body, and spirit with the belief that any imbalance of these factors will lead to unwanted outcomes.
Every part of you must work in harmony to achieve wellness and long-term recovery.

This is valuable because many people with addictions have problems across multiple areas of functioning, but not all programs offer complete holistic services. Some services focused on treating alcoholism or drug addiction may not recognize positive characteristics of the person that could support recovery. Other programs may overlook stressors like co-occurring disorders that contribute to current use or future relapse. Holistic addiction treatments strive to address these shortcomings through a multidimensional approach that provides many therapies and services.2

  • Emotional health: Mental health state, symptoms, and ability to cope with daily stressors.
  • Environmental status: Home, surrounding neighborhood, safety, and stability.
  • Finances: Income, expenses, debt, and your satisfaction with your financial status.
  • Intellectual abilities: Taking creative opportunities and expanding skills and knowledge.
  • Occupation: A person’s fulfillment and satisfaction from their work.
  • Physical health: Medical health diagnoses, diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
  • Social life: Level of human connection and sense of belonging you feel, as well as the presence of a solid support system.
  • Spiritual life: Discovering a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

Holistic treatments evaluate and work to improve each category to boost your overall wellness. Holistic rehab programs are based on the notion that each category of wellness influences the others. This implies that no matter how strong your physical health is, your overall wellness will be limited if your emotional health suffers.2 Every part of you must work in harmony to achieve wellness and maintain long-term recovery.

Holistic addiction treatment services are a wonderful opportunity to improve your overall wellbeing and satisfaction with life while promoting a drug-free lifestyle.

What Approaches Are Used?

Man doing yoga inside

Holistic treatment programs offer a wide array of services since they focus on addressing many of your needs. From traditional psychotherapy to alternative therapies, you’ll find a large variation of services.

Evidence-based behavioral therapies you might find at a holistic program include:3

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A widely used style of therapy that links beliefs and thoughts to feelings and actions, it builds coping skills while identifying situations and stressors that threaten sobriety.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): A method used to strengthen your internal drive to remain drug-free.
  • Family therapy: Used to build strong connections and communication skills with family and significant others.
  • Contingency management: Designed to reinforce sober activities and lifestyle choices to counter the rewarding effects of substance abuse.

Holistic treatment also offers interventions that are sometimes referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Alternative treatments are ones used instead of traditional strategies, while complementary treatments are used in collaboration with traditional care. These approaches fall outside of the standard care you might receive elsewhere, but many CAM strategies are safe and effective. Holistic programs may also be referred to as integrative treatments since they coordinate complementary and conventional interventions to accomplish recovery goals.4

Holistic addiction programs may use popular complementary treatments like:4

  • Natural products including herbs, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and other products often labeled as supplements.
  • Balanced diets complemented by nutritional counseling.
  • Vitamin replenishment via IV vitamin drips.
  • Neurofeedback to increase awareness of your mind-body connection.
  • Relaxation techniques to calm the body and the mind including:
    • Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).
    • Guided imagery.
    • Meditation.
  • Exercise and movement therapies like yoga and tai chi.
  • Chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Biosound therapy.
  • Infrared sauna.
  • Cold laser therapy.

Still other holistic therapiesmay include:4,5,6

  • Acupuncture.
  • Self-hypnosis.
  • Expressive arts therapies.
  • Equine therapy.
  • Spiritual counseling.

Treatment Options Available for Holistic Treatment

Therapist talks with patient about treatment considerationsIf you are interested in seeking holistic treatment for your alcoholism or substance addiction, you may become overwhelmed by the search process. Two primary treatment settings exist, including:

  • Outpatient holistic addiction treatments are more appropriate for people with less-severe addictions, better supports, and the ability to follow through with treatment recommendations while outside of a treatment center. During outpatient treatment, you continue living at home and travel to the facility for treatment at regular intervals.
  • Inpatient holistic rehab differs because you live at the center throughout the course of treatment. Inpatient options are best for people with few supports, severe addictions, or an inability to complete treatment goals independently. Holistic rehabs offer 24-hour care that can last for from 1 to 3 months, depending on your needs. They also may offer options such a medical detox program, aftercare planning, and integration into recovery support groups.

Each level of treatment has its benefits and drawbacks. Since holistic programs focus on all aspects of your wellness, inpatient options can provide more comprehensive treatment during your stay. Outpatient holistic treatments, on the other hand, offer the benefit of allowing you to practice and perfect these skills in your home environment with your natural supports.

Each holistic treatment program provides a different combination of services, so it is important to research what treatments a specific center uses to see if it is ideal for your situation.

Holistic addiction considerations include:

  • Level of service: Beyond outpatient versus inpatient, does the program offer detoxification or other specialized programs?
  • Staffing: What is the staff-to-patient ratio and what are the qualifications of the staff? Are medical professionals available?
  • Types of treatments: Are the interventions used during treatment well-researched and evidenced-based? This is especially important because some CAM strategies have not yet been thoroughly researched.
  • Experience: Does this program have experience working with your unique needs, such as a dual diagnosis or being a sexual minority? Are treatment plans individualized?
  • Aftercare options: Linking you to ongoing care when holistic treatment ends to help maintain sobriety.

How Much Does Treatment Cost?

Whether seeking holistic addiction treatments or other forms of substance abuse treatment, you can expect a wide range of prices and fees based on:

  • Type of services provided.
  • Location of the treatment facility.
  • Total length of treatment.
  • Number of patients treated at the center.

As a general example, exclusive services provided by expert staff in a resort, luxury setting for a long duration will cost more than a more standard range of services provided by a less-credentialed staff in a traditional treatment setting.

Make sure you can afford the holistic treatment program before enrolling.

Another important factor affecting price is the intensity of services, since inpatient/residential programs are normally more expensive than outpatient options. According to averages across many treatment providers:7

  • Standard outpatient with weekly hour-long sessions costs $2,300 for 18 weeks of treatment.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) that offer services for several hours per session with multiple sessions per week cost $4,200 for 12 weeks of treatment.
  • Therapeutic communities, longer duration inpatient/residential options, cost $21,400 for 33 weeks of treatment.
  • Adult residential, shorter-term residential treatment, costs $10,200 for 13 weeks of treatment.

The price and insurance coverage varies by treatments used in the program. With many CAM strategies lacking evidenced-based research, insurance providers may not view the treatments as medically necessary and withhold coverage. And since financial stress is a risk factor for relapse, it’s important to make sure you can afford the holistic treatment program before enrolling.

Sources

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016). The Eight Dimensions of Wellness.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.
  4. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016). Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?
  5. Kern-Godal, A., Arnevik, E. A., Walderhaug, E., & Ravndal, E. (2015). Substance Use Disorder Treatment Retention and Completion: A Prospective Study of Horse-Assisted Therapy (HAT) for Young Adults. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 10, 21.
  6. Fritz, T. H., Vogt, M., Lederer, A., Schneider, L., Fomicheva, E., Schneider, M., & Villringer, A. (2015). Benefits of Listening to a Recording of Euphoric Joint Music Making in Polydrug Abusers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 300.
  7. French, M. T., Popovici, I., & Tapsell, L. (2008). The Economic Costs of Substance Abuse Treatment: Updated Estimates and Cost Bands for Program Assessment and Reimbursement. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment35(4), 462–469.