What is Holistic Addiction Treatment?

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 03/21/2022

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If you or someone you know needs addiction treatment or has tried recovery programs and were unable to maintain sobriety, there is another pathway that can help. Many holistic addiction treatment centers integrate holistic methods into their conventional treatment plans to formulate an all-encompassing sober and healthy lifestyle.

What is a Holistic Approach?

The definition of holistic can vary, as it may differ in meaning from person to person. However, holistic addiction treatment refers to complementing evidence-based health treatment with alternative health modalities that aim to heal and integrate the whole person mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Holistic medicine also emphasizes prevention through self-care and maintenance through nutrition and exercise.

What is a Holistic Addiction Treatment Center?

Holistic addiction treatment centers are rehab facilities that integrate evidence-based treatment with holistic approaches that focus on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance. They approach each person as unique and will aim to match you with the services and therapeutic interventions that best meet your needs and recovery goals.

Holistic addiction treatment centers have a different approach to treating addiction than fully conventional addiction treatment centers. Most of these treatment programs will emphasize an interconnection between the mind, body, and spirit through exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness practices.

By augmenting conventional therapeutic strategies with holistic techniques, a more fitting and well-rounded treatment plan can be implemented for the appropriate candidates. More time can be allocated to focus on the whole self, including culture, trauma, personal development, health and wellness, nutrition, and vitality.

Holistic therapies such as Reiki, acupuncture, and yoga may be used with the evidence-based therapies of individual psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).1

Types of Holistic Treatments

Many holistic treatment methods—when used in conjunction with evidence-based therapeutic methods—have proven to be effective in treating addiction. Such holistic approaches may include:1

  • Somatic therapy practices designed to treat trauma and stressors through modalities such as meditation, breathwork, sensation awareness, or dance
  • Exercise-based CBT to improve awareness of the body and mind connection
  • Spiritually focused practices
  • Guided imagery to help manage stress
  • Acupuncture and massage to improve physical health and minimize anxiety
  • Naturopathic medicine, including vitamin and nutritional supplements
  • Biofeedback to create better awareness of the body
  • Hypnotherapy and light therapy to help patients focus on inner needs and suggestions for improvement
  • Sound or aromatherapy to enhance relaxation and focus
  • Tai chi, reiki, and yoga to improve physical health and mindfulness

Benefits of Holistic Therapies for Addiction

Holistic therapies are flexible. They address and emphasize an individual’s unique and personal needs. They lead to abstinence while helping you understand the driving forces behind your addiction. Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, clients can choose the therapies that fit best for them.

One of the philosophies behind holistic treatment is encouraging the human body‘s innate ability to heal, including from an addiction, and empowering you to take responsibility for your health and reclaim control of your life. These modalities aim to help you discover your authentic self by uncovering your emotions and integrating your shadow elements.2

Holistic therapies offer tools for how to live sober and help you build a foundation for mood regulation and self-awareness to achieve long-term recovery. These treatment methods are designed to take you deeper into understanding yourself and your addiction, so you won’t fall back into your old and unhealthy habits. Holistic treatment plans are individually designed and integrative and operate with an understanding that real healing requires all the systems in your life to also be healed.3

Do Holistic Addiction Treatment Methods Work?

While many different holistic therapies can offer a seemingly comprehensive approach to treating addiction, few have been researched extensively or at all. Conventional treatment and detox for addiction are still the recommended pathway to recovery by most experts. There is a consensus within the addiction field that holistic methods are complementary and to support and strengthen evidence-based treatment offerings.

Holistic addiction treatment may be correct for you if you’re drawn to a natural approach to healing. For holistic therapy to be most effective, research into a particular method is required. What is effective for one person may not be for another.

In most cases, those who are not interested in conventional treatment and have researched or have experience with holistic treatments are the best candidates for a holistic addiction treatment program. These people are usually already comfortable with a particular holistic method and are open to and interested in making a holistic approach part of their addiction treatment. In this way, holistic therapy can be a bridge for someone to consider receiving more conventional addiction treatment methods that may benefit them as needed, since holistic approaches complement usual treatment methods. Holistic therapies can offer some people ease and comfort to entering detox or inpatient treatment.

These methods can produce a sense of wellbeing that allows for a more comprehensive response to treatment while strengthening coping skills for the challenges involved with early recovery. Holistic treatment methods work effectively to allow patients to express and explore feelings surrounding addiction. They can help you discover traumatic experiences, what caused them, and the defense mechanisms you’ve put in place to cope with them.5

Treating an addiction holistically means examining environmental influences, complex trauma, and family dynamics closely. By combining conventional therapy with holistic practice, you can reach higher levels of personal development, and your perspective of the world can be examined and changed.4 When utilized properly and in conjunction with other conventional methods, holistic therapy can enhance healing, mental well-being, new hope, and long-term sobriety.5

Does Insurance Cover Holistic Addiction Treatment?

Holistic treatment methods are gaining more acceptance from insurance companies and traditional addiction treatment providers. Many private insurance companies may cover some or all holistic treatment costs, while others may not deem holistic treatment medically necessary to recover from addiction and will only provide coverage for conventional inpatient or outpatient. Your provider and plan will determine this extent, including the co-pay and deductible amount.

While addiction falls under the mental health umbrella, detox falls under medical and may be covered. This will depend on the relationship between the holistic rehab center and your insurance company. A co-pay is often required before you can begin holistic treatment.

You may have a higher out-of-pocket cost to receive holistic treatment, depending on whether it’s inpatient or outpatient. Other factors such as location, level of luxury, and duration and frequency of treatment will also impact your cost. Despite the cost, there are ways to pay for your holistic addiction treatment program.

Some treatment centers have scholarships, a sliding scale fee based on income, or payment plan options. Further, your state or local government may also offer financial assistance. Every insurance plan is different, however, and may pick and choose which holistic modalities are covered. For example, yoga and somatic therapy may be of benefit to you but are not covered under your insurance plan.

Upon registration, some states mandate that quality of care be administered. To ensure you receive the highest quality of care, research and familiarize yourself with the healthcare providers working with a particular holistic treatment center.

Find a Holistic Rehab Program

If you are struggling with an addiction and need help quitting, call our 24/7 helpline at 800-926-9037 (Info iconWho Answers?) . One of our treatment specialists can help you find a program in your area.

Resources

  1. Mele, A. J. (2016). Treating Personality Disorder Symptoms In Holistic Recovery Programs. Psychology Today 49(3), 14.
  2. Rowan, M., Poole, N., Shea, B., Gone, J. P., & Mykota, D. (2014). Cultural Interventions To Treat Addictions In Indigenous Populations: Findings From A Scoping Study. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy. London 9(34), 1-28.
  3. Karnib, N., & van Staaden, M. J. (2021). The Deep Roots of Addiction: A Comparative Perspective. Brain, Behavior, and Evolution, 95 (5), 222–229.
  4. Jadidi, N., & Nakhaee, N. (2014). Etiology of Drug Abuse: A Narrative Analysis. Journal of Addiction, 2014,
  5. Breslin, K.T., Reed, M.R., & Malone, S.B.(2003). An Holistic Approach to Substance Abuse Treatment, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 35:2, 247-251.