What Does Holistic Treatment Mean in Addiction Recovery?

Using drugs and/or alcohol can damage your mind and body, but quitting can be incredibly difficult. Alcohol sales are up, and people are experiencing increased depression and anxiety in these modern times. Many people are just trying to make it from one day to the next. However, developing a dependency on drugs and/or alcohol can reduce your capacity to maintain a healthy and stable mind and body. Understandably, you might be unsure of how to ground yourself amidst the chaos and want to find ways to cope, but there are other methods to consider. Holistic treatment can help you identify practices that work best for you during your recovery process. 

Why Is Holistic Treatment Important?

The word “holistic” is synonymous with “wholesome,” “complete” and “comprehensive.” When referring to holistic treatment, the mind, body and spirit are treated as one interacting system. Why is this idea so important to think about during treatment? Imagine a situation where you are being treated for a drug or alcohol problem, but your doctor fails to address the driving force underlying it.

Perhaps you are struggling with something in your life that is making you depressed. If you return to that environment without the necessary skills to manage it, you might start drinking and/or using drugs again. There is a dynamic relationship between the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of our being. Taking care of one component while neglecting the others can totally miss the problem. In short, a sick mind can lead to a sick body and spirit (and vice versa).


Traditional Treatments

For some patients, traditional addiction recovery treatments alone can work just fine. Some common practices include: 

  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for detox 
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorder
  • Medical detox
  • Long-term follow-ups to prevent relapse
  • Behavioral counseling and therapy

One behavioral therapy you might come across in treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The initial intent of CBT was to treat alcohol use disorder, but it is now used to treat other substance use disorders, as well. CBT is “based on the theory that in the development of maladaptive behavioral patterns like substance abuse, learning processes play a critical role.” Patients can learn to apply different skills in order to correct harmful behaviors and stop using them. Some patients enter residential programs to stay on track.


What does Holistic Treatment work for You?

To help round out your addiction recovery treatment, holistic therapies can help complement the more traditional treatments. Adding consistent exercise into your program can improve your physical and mental health. Treatment can be stressful and tiring, so getting your blood pumping outside in the fresh air and sunlight can make a big difference. Yoga is a particularly good form of exercise and mind-body practice that researchers have found can help patients quit smoking and manage anxiety and depression. 

Focusing on what you eat is equally important, as foods like sugar can disrupt your gut. Studies of this gut disruption have linked it to depression and anxiety. Fermented foods like sourdough bread, sauerkraut and yogurt have probiotics in them that can help keep your gut healthy. Recreation therapy is another tool used in holistic treatment, getting patients out of residential centers for the day to explore trails and parks, play games and go to the movies. The point of these activities is to have fun and practice your skills outside of the treatment facility. This can be very therapeutic. Other holistic activities you might like are: 

  • Acupuncture
  • Mediation
  • Massage therapy
  • Mindful movement activities 
  • Art and music therapy


Benefits of Holistic Treatment

According to a national survey conducted in 2012, over 30% of American adults use unconventional or non-Western health care practices as an alternative or in addition to the more “conventional health care modalities” used in the West. Integrating various treatments to cover a spectrum of your needs can improve your success in recovery. 

Holistic therapy can help you identify the underlying reason for your SUD, reduce the appeal of substances and strengthen your ability to say no. By achieving this, your new sense of confidence and increased positivity can increase your resiliency to future disruptions. This holistic approach to treating SUDs is becoming more common as researchers discover how truly interconnected our bodies, minds and spirits are.

 When it comes to beating addiction, traditional therapies are critical and can include medication and psychotherapy. The integration of traditional and holistic practices is becoming more common as research reveals their combined benefits. Casa Palmera has a residential program where you can experience various modalities of treatment and decide with a clinician which practices target your particular needs. Contact us today to recover your authentic self.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.