According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, more than a third of adults in the U.S. use some form of holistic medicine. And that trend has been increasing. Holistic drug and alcohol rehab programs teach participants how to heal the mind, body and spirit. For most people, substance abuse goes beyond just the physical addiction. Holistic care centers on the knowledge that simply addressing the physical aspect is not enough. The mind and spirit must also be healed for the mind-body-spirit connection to be restored.
The Ancient History of Holistic Healing
Holistic health practitioners believe in the ancient idea that healing is most effective when you consider the whole person, rather than focusing on specific illnesses, body parts or symptoms. Holistic health is a state of balance, not simply an absence of illness.
Long before modern medications, healers recognized the importance of emotional and spiritual well being in creating total physical health. Hippocrates, who is largely considered the father of modern medicine, was a healer in ancient Greece who stressed the healing power of nature. He believed in the self-healing power of the body. According to Hippocrates, the body contains the ability to heal itself through balancing the four humors: blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm. When any one of the humors was out of balance the body would become ill. Hippocrates taught that natural substances were the best way to rebalance those humors and allow the body to heal itself.
With the discovery of germs as a disease-causing agent in the 19th century, Western medicine became thoroughly focused on intervention. Diseases were treated as invaders to be destroyed with medicines. Physicians paid less attention to healthy lifestyle choices, environmental factors and emotional health. The emphasis was on symptoms. Patients were discouraged from participating in their own health care and began to believe that only medication could heal them.
It took almost a century for the limitations of this approach to become clear. The side effects of the medication that was thought to cure illnesses are sometimes more harmful than the diseases they were meant to treat. Other diseases have failed to respond to medication. Because of this, many people have begun to seek alternative forms of medicine. This led to a renewed interest in holistic health. The first national Conference on Holistic Health was held in California in 1975. The American Holistic Health Association and the Holistic Medical Association were formed soon after.
The Great Imbalance – Holistic Health Today
We live in a time of great imbalance. There are more pollutants and chemicals in our food and environment than ever before. Chronic diseases and obesity rates are at all-time highs. Many Americans have poor diet and exercise habits. Almost everyone in our fast-paced society struggles to manage daily stress, and many are afflicted with chronic depression and anxiety.
There has never been a greater need for the holistic health approach, and people are demanding medical alternatives and actively seeking better options for their personal wellness. This has resulted in constant research and development in the wellness industry.
Due to the relatively low number of doctors who practice holistic health care, professional trained in holistic health are in high demand. These practitioners offer medical alternatives such as massage therapy, nutrition, chiropractic care and acupuncture. While no holistic health practitioner or wellness professional can be an expert in every form of holistic care, each offers a unique set of skills and knowledge to help patients achieve whole body health and balance.
Why Holistic Rehab Works
People turn to drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s to relieve physical pain or drowned out mental health issues. For others, it is to numb the spiritual emptiness they may or may not know exists within them.
People who struggle with substance abuse often aren’t aware which area of health – mental, physical or spiritual – they are attempting to manage through substance abuse. This is the advantage of a holistic approach to treatment. It targets and helps to resolve issues in all three areas so participants can learn to lead a sober life.
The mind, body and spirit are all connected. A disease affecting one will affect the others as well. A holistic program will work to heal each area so the person can continue to stay sober long after the main issues influencing substance use are resolved.
What Is a Holistic Treatment Program
Holistic rehab programs utilize an integrated physical, mental, and spiritual model for treating substance abuse and addiction. These techniques are also often referred to as alternative or complementary treatments, and they are often based on practices that are defined as being close to nature or derived from cultural traditions including:
- Reiki and other kinds of energy work
- Acupuncture or acupressure
- Biofeedback and neurofeedback
- Organic, all-natural nutrition plans
- Art, music or animal-assisted therapy
The key similarity between different holistic approaches is that they are all intended to treat the whole person rather than only a single element of an individual’s symptoms or behaviors. Similarly, effective addiction treatment should address the entire individual and not just the behavioral aspect of the addiction. The goal is to address the underlying reasons that led to the destructive behavior in the first place.
The Holistic Elements of Detoxification
One of the main reasons holistic recovery has received so much attention in recent years is because of an alternative treatment called biophysical detoxification. When a long-term drug abuser continues using illicit substances, his or her body will activate its own defense mechanism. Because the body understands that the liver cannot handle the continual flow of toxins, so it distributes some of these toxins across the fat cells of the body. When the body stores these toxins in the cells it means it does not have to deal with them right away. This is good for the body but ultimately bad for the long-term recovery odds of the user.
When the patient in recovery stops using altogether, these drug toxins are still present in their fat cells. This means that once the person goes through the detoxification process, dormant drug residue being stored in fat cells is released back in to the body – especially during physical activity such as exercise. Some biophysical recovery options address this issue and providing a faster detoxification process to remove these toxins from the cells through a variety of methods including sauna sessions and light exercise.
What to Look for in Holistic Rehab Treatment
As with any rehab program, you should evaluate holistic treatment centers carefully to be sure the program you’re considering is right for you. Questions to consider when looking at these types of programs include:
- What treatment options are available? It is important to choose a treatment center that has a wide range of care options because not every type of treatment works for everyone. They should tailor treatment to your individual needs.
- How long does the program last? You may make considerable recovery progress with a 30-day or 60-day addiction rehab program, although some people fare better with long-term programs. Find out whether you can start with a short-term program and extend your stay if needed.
- How much does the program cost? Holistic programs may be expensive because of the scenic locations, high-quality food, and wide range of therapy activities. Some facilities accept health insurance, provide sliding scale fees, or will work with you to develop a payment plan so that financial barriers don’t prevent you from receiving help.
- What types of follow-up care are available? A good program will provide you with an aftercare plan to help maintain sobriety after completion. Most facilities should provide information on support groups, sober living, and other forms of continued therapy.
Holistic treatment can be an effective alternative to address substance abuse problems with the mind, body and spirit. For more information, contact us.