A Guide to Holistic Addiction Treatment

Tim Sinnott, Lmft, Laadc Elevate Addiction Services
Elevate Addiction Services Logo
Smiling Counselor For Holistic Addiction Treatment.

Key Points in This Article

  • Types of holistic addiction treatment approaches.
  • Integrating evidence-based practices with holistic addiction treatment.
  • Average costs of holistically-minded rehab programs.
  • The combination of traditional and holistic approaches work best for most people.
  • Holistic treatment success rates indicate an improvement in wellbeing, stress relief, depression and anxiety, and substance abuse abstinence.
  • Important factors determining whether your insurance policy will cover holistic addiction treatment.

Here at Elevate’s Northern California facilities (Santa Cruz, CA. and Placerville, CA.) and our South Lake Tahoe facility we do not believe that addiction is the result of a weak character, but rather evidence of deeper physical, emotional and spiritual dilemmas. To address these underlying issues, we don’t just simply treat the symptoms of addiction. Instead, alongside evidence-based practices, we treat the whole person and teach each person how to create a meaningful life without substances.

Elevate Addiction Services Logo


Or you can call and speak to one of our addiction counselors

Defining Holistic Treatment

The term “holistic” refers to the “whole person.” As such, holistic treatment refers to healthcare approaches that address the entire individual, including their mind, body, and spirit.

Otherwise known as alternative or complementary treatments, holistic treatment seeks to address the root cause of a health problem instead of simply treating the symptom. The goal of this approach is to help individuals achieve a fuller and more lasting recovery.

Instead Of Simply Trying To Get The Person To Stop Using Drugs Or Alcohol, This Approach Tries To Reduce The Appeal Of These Substances And Strengthen The Individual'S Ability To Resist Cravings.

When applied to addiction treatment, a holistic approach seeks to heal the addiction by addressing the individual’s whole self through a variety of techniques and practices. Addiction treatment that adopts a holistic approach typically focuses on the following:

Addiction’s Underlying Causes

Holistic addiction treatment views addiction as a symptom of a deeper problem and treats it as such. Instead of simply trying to get the person to stop using drugs or alcohol, this approach tries to reduce the appeal of these substances and strengthen the individual’s ability to resist cravings. As a result, this approach becomes less about asking the person to exercise willpower and more about removing the reasons that drive them to use in the first place.

Client’s Overall Wellbeing

Many traditional, evidence-based practices, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or counseling, also seek out and address the root causes of the person’s addiction. However, these approaches often focus on one element of addiction. For example, therapy often focuses only on mental or emotional drivers of addiction.

Holistic Treatment Differs From These Traditional Approaches By Focusing On The Client'S Overall Wellbeing.

Holistic treatment differs from these traditional approaches by focusing on the client’s overall wellbeing. Rather than understanding addiction as the cause of a single underlying factor (e.g. Childhood trauma), holistic treatment views addiction as a symptom driven by a number of underlying causes that can stem from the mind, body, or spirit.

As a result, this integrated approach addresses the mind, body, and spirit to create a balanced, healthy, individual. This is why holistic treatment may incorporate nutrition and yoga, exercise, acupuncture, or herbal treatments alongside psychotherapy.

Cultural Approaches

A holistic approach lends itself to cultural and spiritual sensitivity for clients who may struggle to embrace evidence-based addiction treatment.

For example, Native American clients may benefit from a treatment approach that incorporates cultural practices, such as sweat circles, and that emphasizes spiritual, mental, and physical connectedness to their community and their world.

By allowing clients to integrate important alternative practices, spiritual beliefs, and cultural approaches to addiction treatment, a holistic approach can help to make addiction treatment more appealing, and potentially more effective, for some clients.

Integration with Evidence-Based Practices

Holistic addiction treatment rarely occurs on its own. Typically, holistic treatment occurs alongside more traditional approaches to amplify their effectiveness. 

For example, therapies such as yoga or meditation, art therapy or biofeedback, almost always occur alongside evidence-based practices such as CBT or MAT. The specific therapies available vary by program. When exploring treatment options, a person should look for a program that offers the combination of traditional and holistic approaches that will work best for them.

Common Types of Therapy found in a Holistic Treatment Program

Holistic addiction treatment consists of many alternative therapies. Here is a look at some of the most common types of therapy and their addiction treatment goals.

Body Rejuvenation Therapy

Body Rejuvenation Therapy

Addiction can have a serious impact on the body’s ability to remain healthy. Many addictive substances can damage the digestive system over time and prevent the body from properly absorbing nutrients. As a result, many individuals who suffer from substance use disorders also suffer from a deficiency of important vitamins and minerals. Body rejuvenation therapy addresses this form of malnutrition by providing clients with supplements intended to restore the appropriate balance of nutrition in their body. This program also seeks to help clients’ bodies return to a normal, healthy state more quickly.


Yoga is commonly chosen as a holistic approach to addiction treatment because of its ability to address the individual’s mind, body, and spirit in one activity. It is often used alongside other therapies to help clients achieve a calm, balanced state of mind, a stronger body, and a self-awareness that makes it easier to recognize and deal with cravings. There are many approaches to yoga that enable individuals of varying fitness levels and abilities to partake. While yoga does not heal addiction on its own, many clients find that, when used alongside other treatments, it can deliver many benefits, from increased energy to better sleep and pain relief.

Movement Therapy

Movement therapy, also known as dance movement therapy, is an integrative approach to addiction treatment that uses the freedom of dance to provide therapeutic benefits. Designed primarily for individuals who struggle to discuss their thoughts and feelings in counseling, movement therapy provides an alternative avenue for self-expression. In addition, movement therapy is said to help clients process trauma, explore issues buried in the subconscious, and strengthen the connection between the mind and the body. As a form of psychotherapy, movement therapy incorporates specific practices in the presence of a trained professional. These practices help uncover themes, struggles, feelings, and thoughts that can support the person’s recovery.

Physical Fitness and Nutrition

Addiction Treatment And Nutrition Fitness

Many individuals enter rehab with a nutritional deficit. Neglected self-care and/or the physical damage that drugs cause can leave addicts physically damaged and in need of healing. Physical fitness and nutrition are a form of holistic addiction treatment that focuses on restoring the addict’s physical health. A comprehensive program can help clients reduce or manage stress, heal the damaged reward system of the addict’s brain, restore energy, boost the presence of positive neurotransmitters, and ease symptoms of withdrawal. While specifics vary by program, each approach embraces an educational approach and the development of nutrition and exercise that works best for each client.

Art Therapy

Addiction is often driven by underlying issues, such as grief, depression, or trauma. These issues are often difficult to talk about, and many individuals are unable to identify these drivers of addiction when they begin their recovery. Art therapy uses the creative process to help clients identify and begin to work through their feelings and experiences as they relate their addiction. Art therapy is most often pursued with a licensed professional, who uses insights gained in the process to support clients in their recovery journeys.


Mindfulness, the practice of being present and reflective in the moment, is an alternative method of addiction treatment that is also sometimes incorporated into evidence-based practices. For example, mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy uses the principles of mindfulness and CBT to support clients’ recovery. While exercises tend to be simple, they are often designed to teach clients how to remain focused, manage stress, and recover an appreciation of the world around them.

While Exercises Tend To Be Simple, They Are Often Designed To Teach Clients How To Remain Focused, Manage Stress, And Recover An Appreciation Of The World Around Them.

Music Therapy

Music therapy is a holistic addiction treatment approach that uses the ability of music to tap into human emotions to support clients’ recovery. When applied by a professional music therapist, this medium can help clients achieve specific recovery goals. From moving in response to music, to creating, singing, and reflecting on music, this approach consists of many possible approaches. In addition, music therapy can be completed with a wide range of musical styles to meet clients’ preferences and keep them engaged with this therapeutic approach.

Experiential Therapy

Experiential Therapy Is A Form Of Holistic Addiction Treatment That Uses Experiences To Help Clients Address And Manage The Underlying Causes Of Their Addiction.

Experiential therapy is a form of holistic addiction treatment that uses experiences to help clients address and manage the underlying causes of their addiction. In addition to offering a comfortable environment where clients can process their recovery, experiential therapy also provides an avenue to try activities and find new hobbies to help prevent relapse. Examples of the kinds of experiences provided in this treatment approach include rock-climbing, wilderness therapy, and sculpting.

Equine Therapy

As its name suggests, equine therapy uses interactions with horses to support clients’ recovery from substance abuse. Often, this treatment approach incorporates both riding the horse and partaking in the animal’s day-to-day care. By providing clients with a responsibility and helping them to build a relationship with the horse, this treatment approach encourages healing, life lessons, and mental and physical support that can assist the person throughout their recovery.

Success Rates of Holistic Addiction Treatment

The research that exists regarding the success rates of holistic addiction treatment indicates that this treatment approach may support addiction recovery in the following ways:

  • Increased sense of wellbeing
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Improved stress relief
  • Reduced depression and anxiety
  • Less drug and/or alcohol use

Additionally, many clients anecdotally report improvement in their recovery experience when provided access to this form of rehab. Some individuals continue participation in holistic approaches such as yoga as part of their long-term recovery, due to the effectiveness they feel it has in their life and in their sobriety. In particular, holistic addiction treatment seems to be most effective when used alongside evidence-based practices.

In Particular, Holistic Addiction Treatment Seems To Be Most Effective When Used Alongside Evidence-Based Practices.

Evidence-based practices have the most research and evidence to support their effectiveness. Holistic addiction treatment may not have the same level of research as these more traditional practices, but it can often serve as an effective tool when used alongside practices such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group counseling, and medication-assisted therapy (MAT).

There are two reasons for this synergy between holistic addiction treatment and evidence-based practices. One is the fact that holistic practices can provide individuals with the physical and mental health they need to devote themselves productively to evidence-based practices. Improved energy, mental clarity, and focus can make psychotherapeutic sessions more effective. In addition, the opportunity to engage in these practices can create excitement and energy that clients can take with them into their more traditional therapy sessions.

The second reason that holistic addiction treatment and evidence-based practices work well together is because holistic approaches often meet client needs in a way that evidence-based practices cannot.

For example, certain cultural practices can support individuals in a recovery that feels familiar and true to their values. Or a holistic approach may provide mental and physical healing that is necessary for recovery (e.g. A nutrition program may reverse nutritional deficits that are undermining a client’s focus, health, and strength, and therefore their ability to deal with their recovery process). This sense of support and authenticity may encourage otherwise reluctant clients to attend treatment, or to remain in treatment for a longer period of time.

As a result, holistic treatment almost always complements traditional treatment. Some proponents of this approach even include clinical practices as part of a holistic treatment approach.

How does holistic treatment compare to other types of drug and alcohol rehab programs?

Holistic treatment stands out from other types of drugs and alcohol therapy approaches because of its focus on the whole person. By treating every facet of an individual and their addiction, holistic treatment seeks to help individuals live fully healthy lives.

By Treating Every Facet Of An Individual And Their Addiction, Holistic Treatment Seeks To Help Individuals Live Fully Healthy Lives.

Thanks to this focus, holistic treatment rarely occurs entirely separate from other types of drug and alcohol rehab programs. Instead, this approach is often referred to as “complementary,” meaning it is used alongside other treatment approaches to flesh out the support they offer clients.

When used alongside evidence-based practices, holistic treatment enhances their impact. For example, nutritional support can provide a person with better health, which in turn can give them the ability to engage fully with counseling, MAT, group therapy, EMDR, and other treatments. Yoga can help clients achieve a calmer and more focused mind, which can assist in resisting cravings and provide insights that can improve the productiveness of counseling.

As a result, holistic treatment enables a drug or alcohol rehab program to provide clients with a well-rounded approach to healing that can make evidence-based practices more successful.

Cost of Holistic Treatment Programs

Because holistic addiction treatment is usually part of a broader rehab program, its costs are usually included in that program’s overall costs. Here is a look at some of the average rehab costs in the United States

  • Inpatient detox: $250 – $800 a day
  • Outpatient detox: $1,000 – $1,500 total
  • 3-month outpatient program: $5,000 – $10,000
  • 30-day outpatient program: $3,000 – $10,000
  • Residential treatment: $5,000 – $80,000
  • Partial hospitalization: $7,000 – $20,000

The actual cost that clients can expect to pay is often much less. Rehab facilities, especially state-run or nonprofit organizations, often offer their services for a reduced cost through means such as the following:

  • Grants
  • Funding
  • Sliding scale fees
  • Scholarships
  • Free treatment

As a result, individuals looking for holistic treatment can expect to find an affordable option in their state, though wait times can be long for some of these free or low-cost programs.

Will insurance cover holistic treatment?

Addiction rehab costs can be expensive. Many clients cannot afford these costs out of pocket. For these individuals, insurance can provide a financially feasible way to afford their treatment, as long as they can find a program that accepts their insurance.

When it comes to holistic addiction therapy, insurance may or may not cover the total costs of treatment. Whether or not insurance will cover a treatment depends primarily upon the treatment being sought and the specific insurance policy held by the client. Since plans vary so widely, clients need to consider the details of their plans before committing to a particular rehab facility or approach.


Your Insurance Could Cover All Or Part Of Your Treatment. Start Your Recovery Today.

Fill out our health insurance verification form and one of our caring professionals will
contact you to discuss covered treatment options.

We do not share your information. All communication is secure and confidential.

Here are some of the most important factors determining whether an insurance policy will cover holistic addiction treatment:

Discussing Treatment Needs And Costs With The Facility Ahead Of Time Can Help Clients Find The Right Financial Fit For Their Recovery.
  • The facility the client chooses
  • The type of insurance policy held by the client
  • The type of treatment the client receives
  • Applicable co-pays and deductibles

In order to determine how much holistic treatment coverage a client can expect to receive from a specific facility, the client should call their insurance company for guidance. The treatment center may also be able to educate the client regarding which insurance policies they accept, how much treatment will be at that center, which treatments the client’s policy will cover, and which out-of-pocket expenses they can expect to pay.

To get the maximum benefits possible from their policy, clients should focus on finding a treatment center and program that fit with their insurance coverages. However, treatment facilities may be able to offer financial assistance to clients who cannot otherwise afford their treatment. Discussing treatment needs and costs with the facility ahead of time can help clients find the right financial fit for their recovery.

elevate addiction services logo
Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.
elevate addiction services logo
Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.