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Holistic Approaches to Addiction Recovery

It’s important to remember that people from many areas of life may be impacted by addiction, which is a severe disorder with many possible causes. Holistic methods to addiction rehabilitation strive to treat the whole person, not just the physical symptoms of addiction, by working on the addict’s mind, heart, and spirit.

Addiction is a complex condition that impacts a person’s mind, body, and soul. The majority of time and energy in traditional addiction treatment plans are spent dealing with the patient’s actual physical withdrawal symptoms. Holistic methods of treating addiction, in contrast, look at the whole person, not just the physical symptoms. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that in 2019, approximately 4.5 million adults (1.7%) received any substance use treatment in the past year.(1)

Holistic Approaches to Addiction Recovery

Alternative treatments, nutrition, physical activity, and social support are just some of the components of holistic approaches to addiction recovery. Holistic treatments for addiction typically include several complementary therapies. In this piece, we’ll discuss the value of taking a holistic approach to addiction treatment, including conventional medicine, alternative therapies, and lifestyle changes like eating better and exercising more.

Mind, Body, and Spirit Connection

Addiction is a condition that may have far-reaching consequences for a person’s life in every way. As a result, it is essential to provide equal weight to all three aspects of rehabilitation. Recognizing the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit, and the need to attend to all three in order to achieve a state of harmony, is what we mean when we talk about the mind-body-soul link. Another study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that patients who participated in yoga as part of their addiction treatment had reduced cravings and anxiety levels, as well as improved mood and quality of life.(2)

Attending to one’s thinking and emotions is an important part of mental health maintenance throughout the course of addiction treatment. Those who have had cognitive therapy have gained an understanding of their own thinking and behavioral patterns, which may have contributed to the development of their addiction. Negative feelings like guilt, shame, and rage are common among addicts. Emotional therapy may be beneficial in helping people manage these feelings in certain circumstances.

Exercises that boost health and happiness should be a regular component of everyone’s self-care regimen. Activities like working out regularly, eating healthily, and getting adequate sleep are excellent examples of this kind of conduct.

Although while stress and anxiety play important roles in the development of addiction, it should come as no surprise that regular exercise is one of the most effective treatments for alleviating these circumstances. Addiction wreaks havoc on the body, and good diet is essential to healing the body and restoring balance.

Praying, meditating, and generally cultivating a thoughtful attitude may all have beneficial effects on a person’s spiritual health and well-being. These techniques may help people get in touch with their inner selves and figure out what they’re here to do with their lives. The spiritual viewpoint has the potential to provide hope and inspiration, which may be useful not just during recovery but also throughout the most trying situations.

Treatments for addiction that take the full individual into account, including their mental and emotional states as well as their physical health, have a better chance of success.

Role of Alternative Therapies in Addiction Recovery

The goal of these alternative methods of drug misuse treatment is to enhance the general health and well-being of its patients. Treatments such as these may be utilized in tandem with more conventional treatments. Practice found that exercise-based interventions, such as yoga, Tai Chi, and aerobic exercise, can be effective in reducing substance use and improving mental health outcomes in people with substance use disorders.(3)

By emphasizing the body’s innate capacity for repair and maintenance of health, alternative treatments aim to promote wellness and well-being. These treatments are aimed at bringing the entire person back into sync after the discord that addiction may cause.

An increasing number of people are looking at CAM treatments for addiction, and one technique that has received a lot of attention is meditation. Some individuals find they can relax after engaging in meditative practices like mantra repetition or mindful breathing. Yoga and other alternative treatments are growing in popularity due to its purported health benefits, such as reduced stress and anxiety.

Another kind of alternative treatment that involves inserting a needle into the body at certain places is acupuncture. From relieving withdrawal symptoms and addiction cravings to restoring the body’s natural energy balance, acupuncture is a kind of complementary and alternative medicine that has been effectively used to treat a broad variety of medical conditions. The use of art therapy as a supplement to conventional addiction treatment has also shown positive results. Art therapy utilizes the visual and performing arts to assist patients in expressing and processing a broad range of feelings and thoughts. Art therapy is a kind of talk therapy that employs visual and performing arts to help patients deal with difficult emotions and find inner peace.

Nutrition and Exercise To Help Overcome Addiction

Maintaining sobriety and progressing ahead in recovery requires a commitment to both good food and frequent exercise. If you aren’t getting enough of the nutrients your body requires, it may be harder to recover. Physical activity has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, two factors that may play a key influence in the initiation of substance abuse disorders.

Eating a diet full of whole grains, lean meats, fruits, and veggies is the most certain way to provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Caffeine, added sweets, and processed meals are all things you should probably cut down on if you want to improve your health and reduce inflammation.

Exercising has the ability to greatly assist in the process of rehabilitation from addiction. As you work out, your brain releases a chemical called endorphins, which acts as a feel-good neurotransmitter. It has been hypothesized that endorphins might boost morale and calm nerves. Cardiovascular health, muscular strength, and flexibility are just few of the health indicators that have been found to improve with regular exercise.

The likelihood of a successful recovery from addiction may be increased by include a healthy diet and regular physical activity as part of one’s treatment strategy. Patients who received a combination of traditional behavioral therapies and alternative therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and acupuncture, had better treatment outcomes than those who received only traditional therapies.(4)

Social Support for Addiction Recovery

Having supportive friends and family members may be a huge help throughout the difficult process of recovering from addiction. Reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness may be one advantage of using social services. If you’re going through the hard patches of rehabilitation, it might help to have a network of friends and family to lean on for encouragement and morale boosts.

Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) may provide peace and strength to individuals going through the recovery process. These organizations provide a wide variety of services, some of which are:

  • There has to be more places where people may feel comfortable opening up to one another, offering and receiving assistance, and learning from the perspectives of others who have been through similar situations.
  • Addicts may profit from obtaining social support via therapeutic measures all through their recovery. Patients undergoing treatment for addiction may benefit from having the opportunity to do so in a safe and supportive environment, such as that provided by individual therapy, group therapy, or family therapy.
  • Building and sustaining positive relationships may also aid those in recovery from addiction. Having loved ones who are aware of and on board with the recovery process may boost a person’s feeling of accountability, encouragement, and drive to keep going.
  • Support from loved ones is essential in the fight against addiction. Those in need of social support may find the motivation and inspiration to achieve a complete and quick recovery via participation in groups, therapeutic encounters, and good relationships.


As we have seen, addiction is a multifaceted illness that calls for a wide range of treatment modalities to ensure a positive recovery outcome. An individual’s mind, body, and spirit are all intertwined, and holistic approaches to addiction treatment take this into account and aim to restore this balance. When combined with conventional treatments like healthy eating, regular exercise, and social support, complementary and alternative medicine dramatically improves patients’ chances of achieving a full and speedy recovery.

Keep in mind that everyone responds differently to addiction therapy, and that one person’s path to recovery may not work for another. Before settling on the best course of action for a patient, it is necessary to consider a number of potential therapies.

It is essential to get professional assistance if you or someone you care about is experiencing addiction. There are several options for those struggling with addiction, including inpatient treatment facilities, peer-led support groups, and professional therapy. Recovery is achievable with the correct treatment and support.


  1. Bitsko RH, Claussen AH, Lichstein J, et al. Mental Health Surveillance Among Children – United States, 2013-2019. MMWR Suppl. 2022;71(2):1-42. Published 2022 Feb 25. doi:10.15585/mmwr.su7102a1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8890771/
  2. Poster Session IITuesday, December 8, 2015. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015;40 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S272-S442. doi:10.1038/npp.2015.326 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4672311/
  3. Liu F, Cui J, Liu X, Chen KW, Chen X, Li R. The effect of tai chi and Qigong exercise on depression and anxiety of individuals with substance use disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2020;20(1):161. Published 2020 May 29. doi:10.1186/s12906-020-02967-8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7260819/?report=classic
  4. Brinkhaus B, Falkenberg T, Haramati A, et al. World Congress Integrative Medicine & Health 2017: Part one: Berlin, Germany. 3-5 May 2017. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017;17(Suppl 1):322. Published 2017 Jun 30. doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1782-4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5498855/?report=classic
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 14, 2023

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