Although the addiction recovery process is a journey that can take many different courses, going to rehab is often seen as the best option. There’s definitely an argument to be made that clinical programs are the most effective means of regaining one’s sobriety, but it’s actually the many different treatment modalities incorporated into rehabilitative programming that make clinical methods of addiction recovery so helpful.
With so many treatment options available today, individuals with alcohol and drug addictions are better able to find rehabilitation centers that offer programs to address their unique, individual recovery needs. However, the versatility of these recovery programs hasn’t made them immune to criticism. Some feel that alcohol and drug rehab centers have a tendency to overlook very important components of the recovery process. Going to rehab helps people to become sober and address the issues that led to their addictions, but most recovering addicts need more than just counseling and group therapy to find meaning and purpose in sobriety. Many rehabs shy away from addressing issues that are most closely associated with spirituality, an oft misunderstood concept that references a person’s source of inner peace and fulfillment and the feeling of being connected with the universe.1 In practice, however, people can derive meaning and fulfillment from their spirituality, which has historically been associated with 12-Step support groups but is often absent from clinical programs. Where is the middle ground?
What Exactly Is Holism?
That’s where holistic treatment comes into focus. Most people have at least heard the term “holism” or about holistic medicine. But many are often unsure as to what it actually means, sometimes confusing it with homeopathy.
In practice, holistic care seeks to restore a patient to a state of complete health rather than merely treating his or her symptoms; therefore, a patient’s treatment regimen might include a much broader range of treatments—such as massage and chiropractic therapies, acupuncture and acupressure, yoga and meditation, among others—in addition to more traditional methods of care.
A Means of Achieving Comprehensive Recovery
The essentials of any effective addiction treatment program are widely agreed to include detox treatment, individual counseling, and group therapy among a few other elements. It’s with these core components that patients often overcome physical addiction while addressing the psychological issues that contributed to the development of their addictions. But those essentials of recovery aren’t always enough.
In a 1945 speech, Bill Wilson—founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-Step method—asserted that most people become addicts because they are searching for God or for meaning or fulfillment in life at the bottom of a bottle rather than trying to find that peace from within.3 Considering how successful 12-Step programs have been despite their lack of clinical methods, Wilson’s statement isn’t necessarily wrong. Therefore, the question becomes whether or not a clinical program can address those needs. If people who turn to substance abuse to fill a spiritual void aren’t having those needs addressed in rehab, the likelihood that they’ll achieve lasting sobriety is negligible.
However, incorporating a holistic perspective into treatment programs can ensure that each patient’s diverse needs—the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual—are all addressed as part of one program. In addition to individual counseling and group therapy, patients in holistic recovery programs work with their counselors to identify their more unique spiritual or social needs as well as the forms of holistic treatment that can help them.
Holism Is a Complement, Not an Alternative
A common misconception about holistic addiction treatment is that they supplant all other forms of treatment, meaning that anyone who chooses a holistic program is essentially forgoing individual counseling, group therapy and other mainstays of recovery. However, despite being considered an alternative form of care, holistic treatment is actually incorporated as a complement to treatment. For instance, mindfulness meditation—a widely used technique that’s offered in most holistic rehabilitation programs—has shown to improve self-awareness, encourages objectivity when looking back on one’s past experiences and the accompanying emotions, improves cognitive ability, reduces the amount of stress induced by environmental or other external stimuli, and can even reinvigorate one’s sense of spirituality.4 Many of these factors aren’t typically addressed by a standard addiction treatment program.
Encourages Natural Solutions to Health Problems
Today we’re able to overcome more illnesses more quickly than ever before, but medicinal treatment is not always the only answer or the best solution. In fact, there are many things that can’t be cured by a pill, but in such instances there’s usually an alternative. Holistic addiction treatments are a more naturalistic set of techniques that can be used to fill the gaps between the medical, clinical treatments offered to patients in rehab.
Like adventure therapy, many holistic forms of treatment are experiential in nature, including yoga, mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, and massage therapy to name only a few. But the greatest benefit of such holistic techniques is that they encourage patients to find fulfillment and relief from their symptoms from within rather than defaulting to medicinal treatments. It’s important for patients in rehab to acquire these skills since holistic treatments better position those in recovery with strategies for sustaining their recoveries indefinitely.
Although holistic treatments for addiction can offer patients a number of benefits, there’s no single right or wrong way to get sober. It’s more important to find the form of treatment that’s best for one’s specific needs. Addiction is a lethal disease, but everyone has a chance to turn their life around. To start the journey of recovery, contact Black Bear Lodge today at 706-914-2327 and we will help you find the resources you need to live a healthy sober life.
Written by Dane O’Leary