Treating the Whole Person: The Role of Holistic Treatment in Dual Diagnosis Cases

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Holistic Treatment In Dual Diagnosis

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Understanding and treating substance use disorder has resulted in a greater appreciation for implementing a holistic approach to dual diagnosis drug rehab. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, surveys have indicated that about half of those individuals who experience a substance use disorder also have a mental health disorder. The acknowledgment and treatment of both conditions is a requirement of successful drug rehabilitation programs.

Focus on the Whole Person — Not Just Their Conditions

As research has demonstrated that substance use disorder — much like mental health conditions themselves — are not the result of some sort of failing of the individual, the understanding that the best kind of treatment focuses on the whole person rather than simply on their conditions has taken root. Just as a dual diagnosis drug rehab program implements elements that are designed to address both types of conditions as part of their drug rehabilitation programs, holistic care involves looking and addressing all the needs of each person rather than looking at them in isolation of one another.

What Is a Holistic Dual Diagnosis Drug Rehab Program?

In spite of advances made within the industry regarding dual diagnosis, it is only recently that an individual’s physical health has also been brought to the forefront of the discussion. According to numerous studies, the fact that many people who have issues with alcohol and other drugs also present with co-occurring mental conditions also means that they are likely to have poor physical health as well. This brings up the need for the identification and management of common health issues that might be present. Implementing the treatment of these — alongside any drug rehabilitation programs — in order to facilitate the individual’s recovery on a short- and long-term basis.
In addition to treating any ongoing physical conditions that the individual might have, holistic treatment can also focus on providing a life-changing focus on the physical that can help sustain recovery and address any deficits caused by the substance use disorder. These include — but are not limited to — the following:

Nutrition Counseling

Regardless of whether an individual used alcohol, drugs or both, chances are that eating well — or even at all in many cases — was not high on their list of priorities. Instead, their focus was on getting the substance that their body and mind is addicted to in order to satiate their cravings. Addressing any nutritional deficiencies is a crucial element of recovery. Not only can this part of a drug rehabilitation program that focuses on dual diagnosis help prevent any further physical issues, but it can also support the health of the whole person.

Yoga And Meditation

Yoga is well entrenched within the mainstream as an effective way to help improve an individual’s physical condition. Not only is the focus on being gentle with one’s body and adjusting any moves to accommodate an individual’s unique limitations, but yoga is also known to help bring a focus to the mind as well. In fact, both yoga and meditation have been shown to have a relaxing effect on the body and brain, making them perfect for individuals who have a dual diagnosis.


The benefits of getting regular exercise cannot be overstated. Implementing an exercise routine as part of a treatment program at a dual diagnosis drug rehab. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, exercise — particularly when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — can reduce the stress and negative feelings that are often associated not only with the substance use disorder itself but also with the physiological and psychosocial needs that arise during recovery.

Complementary And Alternative Medical (CAM) Practices

Complementary and alternative medical (CAM) practices in the form of non-traditional therapies continue to gain traction as a method of treatment at dual diagnosis treatment centers. These can include music therapy, equine therapy, art therapy, adventure therapy and more. In addition to being fantastic avenues when it comes to exploring creativity, working on focus and trying new experiences, these types of alternative therapies are often seen as being just plain fun by participants.

Using a combination of traditional treatment methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy in conjunction with group, family and individual counseling provides individuals with a firm foundation toward recovery. Adding in holistic treatment like those highlighted above ensures that their entire person is being acknowledged and addressed.

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