Redefining What Holistic Addiction Recovery Really Means

It’s not just a buzzword, but a way to create real and lasting change.

Everyone has heard of the traditional 12-step program for alcohol and drug rehabilitation. In fact, many rehab facilities, nearly 74 percent of them, employ this methodology for getting enrollees on the path to sobriety. If you or a loved one has tried alcohol or drug rehab before, then chances are high that the treatment offered was a 12-step program.

There’s just one problem with that. There’s a lot of supporting research, including from trusted resources like Psychology Today, that posits that 12-step programs do not work as effectively as they are promoted to do. Instead, those struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs should consider holistic addiction treatment centers instead.

By understanding the difference between non-holistic (12-step rehab) and holistic treatment programs, an enrollee can make a decision about which type of program will help them achieve sobriety the first time around.

What Is Non-Holistic Rehab?

Non-holistic rehab is more commonly known as the 12-step program. The concept of the traditional 12-step program was created back in 1939. Originally intended to treat those with alcohol problems in Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12-step program was officially printed in Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism.

As the name suggests, there are 12 recommended steps for a recovering alcoholic or drug individual must make to become sober. Some of these include relinquishing control and responsibility of the addiction, handing over that control to a higher power, and joining up with a sponsor. Said sponsor may be a recovered individual themselves or a member of the 12-step program. The sponsor keeps the recovering individual on track as they complete the program, steering them from the temptation of alcohol or drugs.

The patient is also expected to apologize or otherwise fix the damage they have caused during their addiction. They will receive a “code of behavior” (per the American Psychological Association) in which they will live by to maintain their sobriety. The recovered individual also has a responsibility to work with other recovering addicts, sharing their wisdom and knowledge. They may even act as mentors.

Non-Holistic Rehab

Why Don’t These Non-Holistic Rehabs Always Work?

There are many reasons that non-holistic rehabs don’t always work, especially when compared to holistic addiction recovery or holistic detox centers. One of the main reasons is how outdated 12-step programs are.

Back in 1939, the 12-step program was the most effective way of treating alcohol and drug addiction. Undoubtedly, many addicts at the time did recover and stay sober and had the 12-step program to thank for it. It was really the only option at the time.

As the years have progressed and advancements have been made in psychology, science, and medicine, the way that we understand addiction has changed. Giving up control of an addiction is more harmful than helpful.

That’s why even the American Psychological Association, the very organization that outlined the 12-step program in its infancy, doesn’t recommend it  as a means of treatment. Instead, the APA says that “effective treatments now abound for clients with alcohol or drug problems and seasoned therapists are using a variety of treatment approaches, tailoring them to the unique needs of the client.”

Modern Methods Have Eclipsed the 12 Steps

The APA suggests naltrexone or disulfiram-alcohol detox followed by behavioral family and marital therapy, relationship-based treatments, environmental treatments, motivational enhancement treatments, and skills-based treatments. As you’ll learn, many of the treatments the APA listed are components of holistic substance abuse treatment and holistic drug treatment.

It should be mentioned that the APA does indeed still vouch for the 12-step program as of 2001. That said, even the organization has written that “evaluating traditional 12-step programs has been difficult, given the organization’s emphasis on anonymity and the methodological difficulties inherent in studying AA.” They do add that there are “some positive outcomes” with 12-step programs, which is to be expected.

The other major reason that non-holistic addiction recovery such as a 12-step program doesn’t always work often has to do with the “higher power” aspect. This is referring to God or an enrollee’s religious equivalent. If an enrollee is religious, then they may have no problem handing over perceived control to their higher power or God.

Treatment for All, Religious or Not

In some instances, an individual may be reticent or embarrassed to tie in their religion to their addiction. That would pose a problem if they were in a 12-step program. What would be the biggest problem of all, though, is if an enrollee is not religious. Whether they used to be religious and are no longer or never had any religious beliefs, to begin with, being told that they must obey a higher power can make sobriety an obstacle.

This individual may have a hard time completing the 12-step program successfully because of the religious aspect. Yet at the time, with only 12-step and other non-holistic options available, an individual would only have this method of rehab to rely on. Otherwise, they’d be forced to try to detox or quit cold turkey at home, which can lead to mood and physical symptoms and potentially be fatal.

What Is Holistic Addiction Recovery?

That’s why today, holistic addiction recovery is so preferable. When choosing holistic dual diagnosis treatment centers, it’s important to be careful. Since “holistic” is such a big buzzword in today’s rehabilitation centers, many of these facilities may claim to be holistic when they are not. By understanding the definition of a holistic treatment center, an enrollee can then find a true holistic drug treatment or holistic substance abuse treatment center.

Holistic drug treatment centers are those that incorporate improving the enrollee’s spiritual, mental, and physical health as part of the program. There are few medications used in holistic detox centers, as withdrawal medications can often be addictive, too. It’s possible for an individual to get weaned off alcohol or drugs only to get hooked on the detox medication. That’s why the staff at holistic detox centers will only use medication as a last resort. In general, natural methods are favored.

When spending time at a holistic drug and alcohol treatment center, a patient will find themselves and better themselves as they reclaim their sobriety. Let’s now discuss the various treatment elements one should expect at holistic drug treatment centers.

Complete Healing for a Complete Person

Complete Healing

First, the enrollee will have their spirit nourished and refreshed during their time at a holistic treatment center. Activities enrollees might do include aromatherapy, which promotes less painful withdrawals, more sleep, mental sharpness, and more calmness and relaxation. Essential oils not only smell very pleasant, but they can renew the spirit.

Also, spiritually, enrollees might meditate and learn breathing exercises. They will connect with their center and learn how to calm down in stressful situations solely by breathing. Stress can be better controlled, which leads to a more healthful spirit. Mindfulness is another spiritual practice one might expect at holistic addiction treatment centers. Whether it’s through journaling or silent thinking, mindfulness channels gratitude and promotes positive thinking.

As part of these holistic treatment programs, enrollees will also care for their mental state. One’s mental health is integral to their success with sobriety. One way to invigorate the mind is with music and art therapy. These means of fun, nonverbal self-expression can help enrollees work through issues they may have had a hard time vocalizing until now.

Body rejuvenation therapy aides both the mind and the body. By locating holes in an enrollee’s supplement plan and adding in minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients, the enrollee might get a boost in dopamine and serotonin production. They may also have less stress, fewer instances of depression, and a more controllable mood with fewer spikes.

Of course, there is therapy offered as part of holistic treatment programs as well. These might include dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, group sessions, and other one-on-one therapy.

Lastly, there’s the physical aspect of holistic addiction treatment centers. Through physical exercise at all different activity levels, an enrollee can build back the strength, endurance, and stamina they may have missed in the throes of their alcohol or drug addiction.

Active Recovery

There’s experimental and adventure therapy. Both types of therapy are done primarily outside in a group setting. Enrollees will get to go on trips to nearby lakes, forests, and beaches to once again be among these natural landscapes. This is an especially useful form of therapy for enrollees dealing with self-harm, anxiety, depression, stress, or whose lives were clouded with buying drugs.

There are plenty more exercise programs and activities to do. Among them are stationary bikes, kayaking, swimming, hiking, running, walking, playing basketball or volleyball, and trying a CrossFit class. CrossFit includes elements of rowing, weight-lifting, running, and gymnastics for a challenging yet exciting workout.

Yoga lets enrollees stretch their way to better flexibility and inner and outer strength. The moves done during a yoga session are calming yet tough, and they require dedication to perfect.

To ease sore muscles from addiction (and exercise), holistic substance abuse treatment programs often include massage therapy. This is also good for spiritual and mental care, as a relaxed, less tense body is a happy body.

Another major element of a happy body is one that’s consuming nutritious food. Eating is often the last thing on an addict’s mind, but holistic addiction recovery centers can change that. In addition to the introduction of supplements and vitamins as mentioned above, healthy eating via nutritional training repairs spiritual, mental, and physical health.

How Holistic Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Make the Difference

Holistic dual diagnosis treatment centers, as it’s easy to see, are not traditional alcohol or drug rehabilitation. By treating an enrollee’s spiritual, mental, and physical health in these holistic treatment programs, the enrollee will emerge a whole, stronger, healthier, and happier person. They will have the clarity necessary to see that they can have a better life without alcohol and drugs. They will possess the strength to avoid the temptations that might surround them post-rehab.

There is no blame with holistic addiction recovery. There’s no need to relinquish control or responsibility to anyone else. There’s also no traces of religiousness in a holistic program, only spiritual recovery. Therefore, even those who don’t have any religious affiliations can get something out of a holistic treatment program. That’s something that can’t be said with a 12-step program.

Whether it’s for alcohol or drug addiction, inpatient or outpatient, those who are contemplating entering rehab should go for the holistic approach. They will leave the facility looking and feeling better than they ever had before. Most importantly, they’ll have a zeal for life and sobriety.

Holistic Dual Diagnosis

Looking for Holistic Drug and Alcohol Treatment? Come to Elevate Addiction Services

Those who are looking for holistic drug and alcohol treatment centers should consider Elevate Addiction Services in Northern California. As a non-12-step program holistic care center, we offer all the spiritual, mental, and physical services outlined above.

At Elevate Addiction Services, we follow the SMART Recovery method. This is unlike any 12-step program an individual may have experienced before, as it’s free of religious ideations. There are six steps total: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and graduation. During their time spent in the SMART Recovery, enrollees will engage in psychological treatment and medications (as needed), group and one-on-one meetings, and self-care.

There are also detox services available, as well as inpatient and outpatient services. Most people who enroll in the outpatient treatment will be there for 90 days, but enrollees are free to stay as long as necessary until they feel they are ready to go. With an aftercare component, patients are held accountable even once they leave the facility.


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