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Holistic Drug Treatment

holistic treatmentThe concept of holistic drug treatment, like any other type of holistic treatment, is based on the understanding that each person is unique – that we are not the sum of our symptoms, but instead individuals who have a variety of aspects of ourselves that may need to be addressed in order to find true wellness. Wellness isn’t simply the absence of illness, but the combined atmosphere of a quality of life that is truly whole.  This concept brings us back to the concept of holistic treatment, or treating the “whole” person rather than a predefined condition. When an individual suffers from drug or alcohol addiction, there are effective treatments available that are recommended by experts, such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  For instance, a person who is suffering from heroin addiction might benefit from the prescription drug methadone to counteract the effects of heroin and to reduce the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms associated with this particular drug.  This is a reasonable treatment for some, but it is only one aspect of the holistic treatment philosophy.  In order to take a holistic approach, the individual should have a thorough assessment to determine whether there might be a co-occurring disorder, such as depression or a medical condition which might cause chronic pain which contributed to a lifestyle of self-medication.  Not only are there aspects of an individual’s life history that may need to be addressed, but recovery itself can be a stressful period for many people.  Holistic drug treatment addresses stress management in a safe and effective way to help prevent relapse whenever possible.

Treatment of Dual Diagnosis Conditions Is Part of Holistic Drug Treatment

treatmentIndividuals who suffer from mental illness are twice as likely to also suffer from drug addiction when compared with the general population. These conditions may have been present prior to the drug addiction; they may have been developed as a result of the drug addiction, or they may have developed at the same time as the addiction due to shared risk factors.  Regardless of the origin of the disorder, in order for drug treatment to be successful, both conditions must be treated with equal attention. To determine whether or not an individual has more than one mental issue that needs to be addressed, an effective drug treatment program will perform an evaluation to obtain the correct diagnosis. Once the diagnosis has been made, both the drug addiction and the mental disorder are treated so that one does not activate the other during recovery.  Suppose an individual has been self-medicating with an illegally obtained prescription anxiety medication without even realizing that they suffer from an anxiety disorder.  By attaining the proper diagnosis, this individual can undergo psychotherapy or other treatments to address the anxiety.  If they only experience the detoxification process and drug addiction treatment without addressing the anxiety issue, they may return to their old, unhealthy habits to quell their anxiety.

A few of the types of co-occurring disorders that may exist are:

  • Depression, including mood disorders such as bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Panic disorder
  • Process addictions, such as gambling, shopping or sexual addiction

psychotherapyPsychotherapy Is an Effective Tool for Holistic Drug Treatment

There are several types of psychotherapy that are useful in the treatment of drug addiction.  The first, individual counseling, can take the form of traditional talk therapy or the newer, more direct method of cognitive behavioral therapy.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is a short-term process with long-term results.  The process itself generally requires a limited number of sessions between the recovering individual and a trained psychotherapist.  During the course of treatment, the individual will learn better ways to rationally view the world around him while learning new skills for better, healthier behaviors. The process addresses both drug addiction as well as other mental illnesses that may be involved so that the recovering individual has the tools he needs to succeed. In addition to individual counseling, individuals undergoing holistic drug treatment may participate in group therapy and family therapy sessions.  Group therapy, generally overseen by a professional psychologist or other therapist, provides the individual access to their peers who are recovering from drug addiction.

Group therapy in this type of situation has several benefits, including:

  • Positive peer pressure to abstain from the use of drugs
  • The ability to see others who have successfully stopped abusing drugs
  • Sharing information and techniques to manage the stress of daily living without drug abuse
  • Emotional support and honest confrontation when needed
  • The development of long-term relationships that can continue beyond the recovery process

Family therapy involves sessions between a therapist, the recovering addict, and his or her family members to address two sets of needs.  Family therapy can help family members understand what their loved one is going through in terms of addiction and recovery, but it can also help family members who have been traumatized by their loved one’s addiction.  For holistic purposes, family therapy helps to treat the relationship of the recovering individual and his or her family to improve relations, communication, and compassion.

Alternative and Complementary Medicine in Holistic Drug Treatment

Many times when we think about holistic treatments, we picture a group of people meditating next to the ocean or a group participating in chanting exercises.  For some, the concept of alternative and complementary medicine seems like science fiction more than science.  According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, holistic treatments of an alternative nature have been proven effective in many circumstances. For instance, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has established that stress – like that experienced in common, everyday stressful situations – is a significant factor in influencing whether an individual will begin to use drugs, or relapse into old drug use behaviors. Learning how to manage stress can help to reduce the impact of stress on our lives.  One technique that has been proven effective is mindfulness-based meditation. Mindfulness-based meditation is founded on the principle of living in the “here and now” – being mindful of one’s environment and surroundings in order to gain control over every aspect of his or her life.  When used correctly, this technique can help an individual with many symptoms of co-occurring mental disorders that can trigger drug addiction relapse.  The studies show that the use of this type of structured meditation can actually change the human brain for the better. Yoga is a physical form of meditation and exercise that has been shown to reduce some forms of pain. It is low-impact and the postures involved can be modified to the skill level and overall condition of the individual.  It is important to keep in mind that one does not have to be in excellent physical shape to enjoy the benefits of yoga.  If chronic pain contributed to the abuse of drugs or alcohol, such as an addiction to opioid painkillers, yoga may be an option to help alleviate it.  This, in turn, can give an individual an option other than prescription medications for the control of their chronic pain and help to prevent relapses. Another form of therapy that can help individuals to recover from drug and alcohol addiction in a holistic, healthy way is acupuncture.  This form of holistic medicine evolved in the Far East, and it has been around for thousands of years.  According to the National University of Health Sciences, acupuncture is centered on the concept that our bodies have a profound energy, known as qi (pronounced “chee”) that can cause illness, both emotional and otherwise when it is blocked, over-abundant, or weak. Acupuncture is one method of balancing the energy to achieve one’s best health and overall wellness. Treating the entire person, from an emotional, physical and compassionate position, is the very essence of holistic drug treatment.  According to the culmination of research conducted over years of study, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has determined that treating all of an individual’s needs, at every level, is necessary in order to offer effective drug abuse and addiction treatment.  Regardless of the individual aspects of the holistic treatment, which should be tailored to each person’s specific needs and desires, this holistic approach to care is truly an amazing step toward a life of recovery. For more information on how holistic drug treatment may help you or your loved one, contact us at Futures today.

Some services listed may not be included in our core program. An admissions counselor will be able to provide you a complete list of core services. Information provided for educational purposes. Premium services or programs may be arranged through your therapist or case manager.