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How Effective is Holistic Addiction Treatment?

The meaning of holistic is described as dealing with or treating the whole of something. In regards to recovery, holistic treatment takes into account the mind and the body. The ultimate goal of holistic healing is wholeness.

Other names for holistic therapy include complementary therapy, alternative therapy, traditional or eastern medicine. There are various types of holistic therapies available and finding the one that is most effective could take some time. It is also important to note that many people use holistic therapies in conjunction with their routine addiction treatment.

There can be a myriad of different options when it comes to addiction treatment and it can be difficult to find the right one that will be most effective for you. Many treatment centers advertise themselves as offering holistic treatments as a way to heal the person in recovery as a whole. Holistic addiction programs can be some of the most effective treatments available because they focus not only on a person’s mental health but also their body and mind.

Some holistic treatments may not involve the more traditional types of therapy approaches such as the twelve step method. Choosing holistic treatment can be a good decision if you feel that the twelve step philosophy would not be effective for your recovery. Holistic treatment can focus on other types of spirituality and ways to improve all aspects of a person’s well-being.

Herbal Medicine for Holistic Treatment

Is Holistic Addiction Treatment Cover Insurance?

Although some insurance companies might not cover alternative medicine on its own, if holistic treatment is part of a greater treatment program you might be able to get coverage. Alternative medicine can be expensive but more treatment programs are incorporating aspects of alternative therapies into their methods of recovery. There may be several programs that your insurance will cover that offer some holistic strategies within their treatment plan.

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The Holistic Approach

A holistic treatment center that does not follow the twelve step approach usually has a different view of addiction than more traditional treatment centers. Instead of viewing addiction as a disease it may focus more on the past issues in a person’s life that may have contributed to the development of their problem with drugs or alcohol. The connection between the mind and body is a important aspect in a holistic program.

Using the holistic approach, patients are taught not only to abstain from the use of alcohol or drugs but to discover and understand the causes of their problem. It is not just a matter of willpower or avoiding substances because they have a disease. It involves looking into their past to understand why they began using and resolving those issues as a way to prevent relapse.

Non-twelve step treatment is usually more self-empowering than twelve step programs because it is more customized to the individual person’s needs. Patients can choose different types of therapies that they believe will be beneficial to them rather than having a one size fits all kind of treatment. Twelve step programs at times can be more regimented and less flexible to suit the individual and their unique issues.

Holistic programs usually include psychotherapy, various holistic techniques, evidence-based treatment models and group therapy. These types of programs may provide services that treat aspects of a person’s health other than their mental state. It could include things like acupuncture, massage, reiki or other spiritual and energetic healing practices.

Why Holistic Therapy Works?

One of the reasons that people choose holistic therapy is that it helps them feel more involved in their own recovery and making their own decisions. Holistic treatment gives people the tools that they need to learn how to be sober instead of just following a program that focuses solely on abstinence. They can understand their addiction on a deeper level and know how to avoid falling back into old, unhealthy habits.

With holistic therapy, patients are able to learn everything that they can about their own triggers and the things that cause them to drink or use drugs. When a person in recovery has a solid understanding of how their addiction works they can feel more empowered and in control of their own habits. They will feel less helpless or at the mercy of a disease that they have no power over.

Holistic treatments also give people the freedom to explore their own type of spirituality that can help them feel more comfortable with expressing themselves and their inner life. They will not necessarily have to believe in any particular religion or a higher power if it is not something that they want to incorporate into their recovery. Spirituality can simply be anything that helps them feel more connected to positivity within themselves.

People often choose holistic treatment for their own personal reasons but it can be equally effective to many other approaches. The world of behavioral and mental health treatment has become more accepting of holistic therapy and the way it can help individuals in need of recovery. It is a treatment method that has proven itself to help people from all walks of life and with many different kinds of issues.

List of the most popular and effective forms of holistic treatment for addiction


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that is commonly used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms including nausea, anxiety, irritability, restlessness and general pain. Acupuncture has been proven to raise endorphin levels which in turn naturally reduce pain and curb cravings. According to Medscape, “ several brain neurotransmitter systems such as serotonin, opioid and amino acids including GABA have been implicated in the modulation of dopamine release by acupuncture.” Overall, the idea is that acupuncture can restore an overall balance by stimulating a patient’s “Qi” or energy flow within their body. It is believed that addiction causes a congested energy flow therefore creating an overall energy imbalance.


Similar to acupuncture, Reiki is a Japanese technique that involves moving “life force energy” throughout the body. Reiki’ calming effect allows patients to become more centered and release most of their emotionally induced discomforts. Patients also leave Reiki sessions more composed and mindful.

Massage Therapy/Chiropractic Therapy

Both massage therapy and chiropractic therapy promote the release of endorphins and stimulate the immune system and overall pain management. Similar to acupuncture and Reiki, after massage therapy or a chiropractic session, patients are relaxed and more conscious of their body mind connection.


According to Psychology Today, “mindfulness practice helps us develop the capacity to see clearly exactly what we’re attached to so that we can let go of it and end our suffering.” When one meditates, they are able to let go of negative thoughts or unhealthy cravings as a passing thought. Also, simply put, meditation can train your brain to reach a “natural high”.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is one of the more popular forms of alternative treatment therapy that can be taught as self-soothing technique and also a way to encourage self-expression without boundaries. Similar forms of art therapy that allow for creative expression in healthier ways include music therapy, dance therapy and acting therapy.

Equine Therapy

Although not as widely utilized, equine therapy has been a important part of addiction treatment for decades. Equine therapy involved the human-horse interaction. Horse’s are known to have a keen sensitivity and their behavior is said to reflect a patients mood and overall state of being and can uncover deeper hidden emotions. Horse also help patients ease anxiety, improve communication and build trust.

If you are interested in holistic therapy look for a treatment center that incorporates holistic methods. You can contact your insurance company to find out what types of holistic treatment programs it will cover through either partial or full payment.

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