Rounding Out Addiction Treatment with Holistic Therapy

Updated on 07/03/23

Content reviewed by Gillian Bieler, LCSW, CSAT

Treating patients with a substance use disorder is a complicated process. Each individual has had unique life experiences that have shaped their personality and struggles. Every case is different, so it’s important for treatment plans to be flexible and for clinicians to provide their patients with other paths to recovery.

At Authentic Recovery Center, patients can participate in holistic therapies as a supplement to clinical therapies. Patients will have the chance to heal their mind, body and spirit through various therapeutic activities.

Clinical approaches are critical to treating addiction.

Evidence-based modalities such as psychotherapy and psychiatric care are the cornerstone of any treatment program. They help patients maintain sobriety by resolving internal conflicts in individual and group sessions and reshape household dynamics in family therapy. Sometimes, patients need medication to manage co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

Holistic therapies replace these critical aspects of substance abuse treatment. Rather, they work by reinforcing the foundation that traditional approaches create.

Holistic therapies offer something different in addiction treatment.

Holistic therapies are called mind-body practices or Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practices. The purpose of a holistic approach is to promote optimal mental, physical and spiritual health so that patients are in the best position to overcome the many challenges of addiction.

Holistic therapies address areas of recovery that conventional treatments miss. While cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on changing harmful thoughts and behaviors, mind-body practices center around a patient’s relationship with their inner self and their environment. Re-establishing the connections between the mind, body and spirit allow the patient to experience a deeper and more authentic healing.

Patients will also find that holistic therapies are something to look forward to because they are fun and relaxing.

There are different types of holistic therapies.

Most drug and alcohol abuse programs now offer a variety of holistic therapies. Some options available at ARC include:

1. Mindfulness practices

Mindfulness practices include activities such as yoga and meditation. Both have been found to improve recovery by targeting stress-related thoughts and emotions and behavioral urges like craving. Yoga and meditation require deep breathing, which can relieve tension and anxiety. These practices can foster a connection to oneself and increase resilience to stress.

2. Recreational therapy

Recreational therapy is a broad term for many activities that patients may have access to during treatment. At ARC, patients have can go on outings to museums, movie theaters and amusement parks. The idea is to get patients out with peers to socialize and demonstrate that life can be enjoyed without substances. Patients can also practice skills learned in individual and group therapy and build confidence.

3. Exercise therapy

Physical activity is an integral part of self-care inside and outside of treatment. At ARC, patients are encouraged to take walks, hike and go to the gym. Daily exercise not only gets a person in shape and boosts confidence, but it can improve mood and regularize sleep patterns and metabolism. When a person feels and looks good, they are more equipped to deal with other challenges.

4. Creative therapies

Creative therapies, such as art and music, have their own unique benefits. Art and music are mediums that facilitate non-verbal self-expression through imaginative and creative exercises. This form of therapy is beneficial for those who struggle with communicating their emotions and needs effectively. Some studies show that art and music therapy can reduce denial, shame, stress, anxiety, depression and anger.

Holistic practices benefit patients.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) also highlights that CAM practices have been associated with improvements in areas that are critical to sustainable recovery, including:

  • Enhanced physical and mental health and well-being
  • Improved ability to cope with daily challenges and stressors
  • The general enhancement of the healing process in substance use disorders

The VA also points out how CAM practices can improve a person’s self-care, one of the first things that deteriorate with addiction.

Holistic modalities provide something different to patients recovering from drug or alcohol abuse. Traditional therapies are essential, but mind-body practices and experiential programs make treatment and recovery a journey to look forward to. While they serve the purpose of providing an outlet for patients to apply new skills in a real-life setting, holistic therapies also serve as a way to let loose and simply experience life as a sober individual.

Integrating holistic therapies into a substance abuse treatment plan can make a significant difference in helping a patient find their path to an authentic recovery.

Addiction is a complex disease that often requires a multi-prong approach to treatment. Holistic therapies can be used in conjunction with traditional modalities to heal the mind-body-spirit connection that addiction weakens. ARC is a Joint Commission-accredited treatment facility located in West Los Angeles. We provide a safe space for patients from all walks of life to free themselves from addiction and move onto a new chapter of their life. We offer effective and evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring conditions in our comfortable and aesthetic residential centers where you can feel right at home. You will also have the chance to participate in indoor and outdoor holistic therapies. We believe holistic therapy is an integral part of treatment because it helps you build interpersonal relationship skills and practice mindfulness while having fun at the same time. Call us today for more information on our treatment programs: (866) 786-1376


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.