People who have a substance use disorder (SUD) have many options when it comes to treatment. Many doctors and mental health professionals suggest that evidence-based treatment is the best way to recover from substance addiction. For the most part, this is true, though many holistic approaches can complement rehabilitation. In some cases, holistic practices can serve as complete alternatives to typical treatment.
A holistic approach to addiction can help one enact healthy habits that may last a lifetime. It can also shape a strong mind and body. On the other hand, it may cause one to avoid figuring out why they became addicted to substances in the first place. Evidence-based treatment methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and group counseling, encourage patients to confront their substance issues and recognize triggers that make them want to use.
So, what direction should you or a loved one take? Let’s explore holistic practices as well as an evidence-based treatment.
Several holistic approaches aim to engage a person’s mind, body, and spirit. Some people try a variety of holistic approaches before they seek professional health for an SUD. This may be because addiction treatment is expensive, far away, or may not seem necessary just yet. Some feel they are capable of managing or stopping substance abuse on their own.
For some, holistic practices are cheaper and are a more engaging way to treat an SUD. Most holistic approaches involve some form of movement coupled with mind stimulation.
Some examples of holistic approaches are:
- dance/movement therapies
- art therapy
- leisure and recreational activities
- spiritual growth and development
- cultural awareness
Some of the most practiced holistic activities are yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation. All three of these incorporate physical and mental practices that encourage wellness. Other holistic approaches — like working out daily, dieting with healthy meals, and getting more in touch with your cultural identity — have many health and emotional benefits.
Some of these benefits are:
- relieving feelings of depression and anxiety
- producing endorphins, a natural chemical that spread feelings of positivity and happiness in the body
- creating a schedule based on activities that promote feelings of peace and balance
- getting in better physical shape, which can lead to more confidence
- tapping into parts of the brain that were not used before
- better sleep patterns
- building a community with others who participate in the activity
- finding purpose and joy
While some have found benefits from holistic approaches, many find themselves back in addiction. They may continue to try other practices before entering addiction treatment. In addiction treatment, people with substance issues are treated as patients with an illness. Many of these programs employ evidence-based treatment, which are treatments backed by scientific evidence and research studies proving that the methods are effective.
Some of the most common evidence-based treatment approaches for addiction and mental health are:
- Motivational interviewing
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Dual diagnosis treatment for substance abuse and mental illness
- Individual, group, and family therapy
If you’re interested in evidence-based treatment, you can find the best care at an inpatient or outpatient rehab center. Let’s take a look at these treatment options.
Inpatient Rehab Centers
These programs are usually reserved for people with moderate to severe SUD. Inpatient rehabilitation centers represent the most intensive form of treatment. Patients live on-site and receive 24/7 monitoring for one to six months. Several activities take up a patient’s schedule, some of which may incorporate holistic approaches but rest largely on an evidence-based treatment plan.
Patients in an inpatient program may experience:
- individual group therapy
- 12-step support groups
- psychiatric care
- yoga and meditation
- physical activity
Therapy is usually where patients find insight into their substance abuse history and learn ways to live a substance-free life. Benefits of individual therapy in an inpatient rehabilitation facility:
- learn to identify and correct problematic behaviors
- anticipate situations that may make you want to use and come up with healthy coping strategies
- exploring the negatives of continued drug use
Outpatient programs are ideal for people with a mild addiction. These are more flexible and less of a time commitment, but still benefit those who have developed a substance issue. Outpatient programs offer many of the same treatment practices as an inpatient facility does but don’t offer overnight stays. Patients attend one to eight hours of treatment and then go back home.
One of the main practices used in outpatient programs is group therapy. This is where a patient gets to listen to another person’s perspective, story, and issues. Often the group facilitator may encourage patients to work on an activity together, which can teach patience, teamwork, and respect. When a patient frequently attends group meetings with the same patients, fellowships are created.
These relationships can serve as a support system later on, and also provide opportunities to be of service to others.
So What’s the Better Choice: Holistic or Evidence-Based Treatment?
As everyone’s substance use story differs, so will their recovery journey. A healthy mix of holistic approaches and evidence-based treatment can aid in recovery and help you to become substance-free. It’s always best to reach out to medical professionals when deciding which treatment is best for you.
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