Addiction treatment programs have been the backbone of addiction recovery programs for hundreds of affected people. For years, they’ve given the structure and counseling that can help addicts break the cycle of addiction and get clean.
But times are changing–and these programs aren’t the only option anymore.
Almost one-fourth of all drug rehabs in the United States don’t use the standard 12 step addiction treatment program. One size doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to addiction recovery.
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It’s safe to say that the use of alternative treatment methods is hardly uncommon anymore. Many treatment centers provide offerings that use herbal remedies, biofeedback, or meditations for drug addiction to help patients recover from a variety of illnesses.
When addiction centers use the same approach for everyone, treatment attempts may fall flat for certain patients. It’s important that you find a method that’s good for you and your recovery process.
If you’re searching for alternative addiction treatment to supplement your recovery process, here’s a guide on where to start.
What is Alternative Treatment?
About 38% of adults in the U.S. use some form of holistic medicine, and the trend only gets more popular each year.
There’s a wide range of treatments that are described as alternative or holistic addiction treatment. The key difference between these treatments and typical medicine is that alternative treatment intends to help the whole person rather than just the person’s symptoms.
It aims to deal with factors that contribute to addiction or make symptoms worse. These include:
- Physical symptoms of addiction and withdrawal
- Emotional instability
- Hormonal imbalances
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Neurochemical imbalances
- Environmental toxins/contaminants
Effective alternative addiction treatment seeks to address everything–the symptoms of the addiction itself, the resulting behavior, and the underlying reasons that may have led to the drug use in the first place.
Examples of alternative treatment include:
- Herbal medicines
In most cases, experts recommend that alternative treatment is used in combination with more conventional therapies to provide long-lasting, effective recovery.
What Are the Benefits of Alternative Treatment?
Alternative and nontraditional treatment for addiction recovery has a number of benefits.
Not only can it help you cope with the symptoms of addiction and withdrawal, but it aims to improve your overall psychological health and emotional well-being. This can help you succeed in your treatment programs.
Here are a few of the potential benefits:
- A more thorough approach to recovery that addresses the individual on a physical, emotional, and mental level
- Less intimidating methods which are often more accessible than traditional treatment types
- Help to expose the root of the problem–especially underlying issues that the patient might not be aware of
- Methods that are designed to be calming and reducing anxiety, which can help reduce the severity of symptoms
The main reason why alternative treatments are becoming so popular is the emphasis on mind-body approaches.
Using these treatments alongside traditional programs can help you navigate the day to day challenges of addiction and keep you physically and emotionally healthy throughout it all.
Alternative Addiction Treatment
There’s no shortage of alternative treatments out there–including supplements, medications, therapy, meditation techniques, and physical treatment.
Here are a few alternative addiction treatment methods that you can try.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation is an important factor in maintaining mental health and it’s often used in traditional treatment methods as well.
Being aware of thoughts and feelings–whether they’re good or bad–can help addicts take a step forward in recognizing which ones to act on. It can also help reduce negativity and regulate mood.
Meditation can lower levels of cortisol in the body, which is a stress hormone. With consistency and practice, a patient can boost their neurotransmitters, alter their mood, and free themselves from negative thoughts or behaviors.
Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD) is a component in maintaining a high metabolism, as well as producing energy in the body. For addicts, NAD can be used in large doses as a detox or on a regular basis to supplement important vitamins and proteins in the body.
The large dose used for detox is typically in IV form. This can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. If you’re using smaller doses on a more regular basis, NAD also comes as supplemental pills.
It’s been used to successfully treat addictions to a variety of drugs, including opiates, stimulants, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and more. Patients report an improvement in their cognitive function, focus, mental clarity, energy, and mood.
Both biofeedback and neurofeedback monitor the body’s physiological processes in an effort to reduce withdrawal symptoms and help a patient recover. They provide biological feedback on body processes such as:
- Muscle tension
- Heart rate
- Skin conductance
The only difference between biofeedback and neurofeedback is that neurofeedback involves hooking electrodes to your head to monitor brainwaves as well as other body processes.
Both methods can help you deal with issues like anger, insomnia, or depression–all of which are triggers for drug relapse. These also increase relaxation, reduce cravings, and help you keep a healthy emotional balance.
Although acupuncture is typically used as a method of pain management, it has been growing in popularity as a treatment for emotional imbalances involved with addiction–including anxiety and depression.
The technique involves stimulating specific points on the body either with thin needles or a laser. It may also be done alongside with cupping therapy, heat, or pressure.
Acupuncture can make withdrawal and detox less difficult, reduce cravings, and control anxiety. It works well to support the treatment process in order to minimize symptoms of addiction.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
EFT is a type of acupressure. It’s similar to acupuncture except the technique doesn’t involve piercing the skin. Instead, it involves pressing specific points on your body with the tips of your fingers.
Often referred to as “tapping,” EFT combines psychology and physical therapy to give you renewed energy, loosen the muscles, and relax the mind.
With each tap, the patient will make a verbal statement about an emotional issue or a problem they are facing, while practicing acceptance and self-love regardless of those difficulties.
EFT is designed to help reduce anxiety, while also addressing the potential emotional triggers for your addiction to help you cope.
Biochemical restoration is a relatively new technique designed to treat the imbalances that can cause cravings, mood swings, depression, and anxiety–all things that can trigger drug addiction.
Recovering addicts often reach for food that gives them temporary comfort–like foods with high levels of fat, added sugar, and caffeine. These foods can destabilize blood sugar and mood.
Biochemical restoration is a form of chemical nutrient therapy which seeks to address this. It includes a personal nutrition plan, nutrient supplements, physical activity, and relaxation.
Once these imbalances of neurotransmitters and nutrient deficiencies are addressed, it’s much easier to tackle the traditional treatment methods.
In order to address mental health as well as physical health, alternative addiction treatment includes different forms of emotional therapy. These therapies can be used alongside other recovery techniques.
There are a number of options for emotional therapy, including equine therapy, pet therapy, art therapy, and adventure therapy.
If you’re struggling with the strain of addiction on your relationships, discover more about couples therapy to help facilitate goals for recovery.
Participating in these activities helps you gain insight into what might be driving your addiction, and it allows you practice new patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
In the process of this therapy, you’ll also be able to reduce feelings of anxiety through therapeutic and relaxing activities.
Virtual Reality Therapy
Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) is a form of therapy that uses virtual reality technology to allow patients to simulate real-life experiences.
It creates a virtual experience that makes use of all five senses. These realistic virtual worlds use exposure therapy in order to simulate triggers, which can help addicts overcome cravings for various drugs.
Using VRT with other forms of treatment can help addicts develop coping mechanisms for their addiction. It also allows addicts to go about their daily lives without having to avoid the people, places, or things that might trigger cravings for drugs.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for new treatment techniques or just something to supplement your current treatment plan, alternative addiction treatment can boost your overall psychological health and well-being.
Physical, mental, and emotional health can contribute to emotional balance and overall addiction recovery. What’s traditional isn’t always the best–and you never know what works for you until you try.
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