Holistic Rehab Centers
Trusted Content

Holistic Rehab Centers

Brittany Thompson, MSMFT

Medically reviewed by

Brittany Thompson, MSMFT

February 1, 2019

Addiction affects the physical, psychological, and spiritual health of a person, so recovery must work to reverse those changes and move forward with improvements. Holistic rehabs focus on improving the health of the mind, body, and spirit of each individual in order to help set them on the path to sobriety

The term “holistic” refers to treatment that focuses on the health of a person as a whole. Treatment methods in a holistic program provide a comprehensive approach to healing. Holistic healing in addiction recovery gives individuals a chance to improve all aspects of health: mind, body, and spirit.

Holistic rehab centers may provide a focus on holistic healing, or may simply offer an array of treatments that provide a well-rounded approach to healing. In other words, a rehab center may still provide holistic healing even if holistic treatment is not its sole focus.

What Is Holistic Addiction Recovery?

The American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) explains, “the holistic approach encourages the patient to include healing strategies that support the whole person.” Overall health is important to a successful treatment outcome for any health condition, but for chronic diseases, such as addiction, health of the whole is extremely important.

In addition to improving physical and psychological health, holistic healing allows a person to improve their self-worth, self-management, and general attitudes and behaviors in life—all of which affect addiction.

Here are some of the ways that holistic healing can work in addiction recovery:

  • teaching skills and coping mechanisms
  • decreasing stress and learning to manage it
  • boosting immune for improved health
  • learning to maintain physical and mental health
  • enjoying general improved health for faster healing in future
  • learning withdrawal and relapse prevention techniques
  • managing symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other mental health issues
  • learning tools to control behavior and reaping the benefits

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Originally, holistic healing may have meant more “natural” methods, such as without use of medication and involving total abstinence from use of substances. Twelve-step programs, which give credit to a higher power, were and remain popular in holistic healing programs.

However, the addiction recovery community now recognizes that with some substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, quitting use of them without tapering off the drugs can be dangerous.

That’s why holistic healing may first involve detoxification and/or medication as needed. Detoxification allows a person to rid their body of chemicals gained during substance abuse, and medication can provide relief from uncomfortable or painful withdrawal symptoms.

Holistic addiction recovery is simply a treatment program that will meet all of a person’s healing needs by improving their health and behaviors, teaching them the skills they need to manage addiction long-term, and arming them with the techniques they’ll need to prevent relapse.

Holistic Treatment Methods

Because holistic addiction treatment focuses on several aspects of health, a holistic program must involve a number of treatment methods. The following are some holistic healing methods that have proven effective for those in addiction recovery.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese healing method now widely accepted in the medical community for treatment of many different ailments. The method involves inserting paper-thin needles into certain points of a participant’s body to target different areas/needs of healing.

For example, a report from Yale School Of Medicine examines the five points targeted by ear acupuncture which help addicted individuals promote health of certain organs, improve overall central nervous system sustainability and immune health, reduce issues like anxiety and nervousness, and promote relaxation and calm.

Acupuncture as a holistic healing method can help those in addiction recovery learn ways to manage stress and cope with anxiety, which can affect the recovery outcome. This method also provides a way to heal vital organs, like the kidneys and liver, during detoxification, which can be a necessary part of addiction recovery for some individuals.


Biofeedback therapy has been used to treat people in addiction recovery for the last several decades with increasing success. Biofeedback works by attaching electronic sensors to a person’s skin, tracking their involuntary body functions, and assessing the person’s “bio” feedback based on this assessment.

Tracking involuntary body functions provides information about how these functions occur in your body—so a person can learn to control them. Involuntary body functions occur independently; people don’t have to think about these functions. This also means that when a person undergoes stressors like anxiety, nervousness, or high-stress situations, these functions can get out of control and affect their health and well-being.

Some involuntary factors a person can learn to manage with biofeedback therapy include:

  • breathing and heart rates
  • body temperature
  • blood pressure
  • muscle contractions
  • sweating

Anxiety and nervousness or other mental health conditions may be heightened due to withdrawal symptoms resulting from addiction or dependence. As involuntary functions heighten, a person may feel overwhelming urges to continue abusing substances. These functions may also be what prompted the person to seek substances in the first place.

By learning to manage involuntary body functions, individuals can recognize when these functions are out of control or at unsafe levels and engage in relaxing, stress-management practices to regulate the functions.

Exercise And Nutrition

As stated from a source in an article by Psychology Today, “‘nutrition, exercise, and developing the best health possible are important for creating and sustaining the conditions for addiction recovery.’”

People who have been abusing substances for a prolonged period of time tend to not pay great attention to their health. This includes having a well-balanced diet and getting adequate sleep and exercise. Many individuals in addiction recovery also suffer from vitamin and other nutritional deficiencies, and recovery gives them a way to restore that part of their health.

Not all holistic therapy programs will have a nutrition and exercise component, but the best ones will. Improving mental health, behaviors, and learning ways to manage stressors and cope are some of the most important components of addiction recovery. Yet a person’s body must be healthy enough to sustain these components, and that’s why nutrition and exercise are an important part of any addiction recovery program.

Herbal Therapy

Herbal therapy is a traditional, though lesser-known, healing method. It is used in holistic addiction recovery for those who prefer a more natural way of healing from uncomfortable withdrawal effects.

While not all holistic programs in addiction recovery will offer herbal remedies, many are open to it as a possibility. For those which don’t offer it, they may offer other relaxing, natural healing methods including acupuncture, stress management and mindfulness techniques, meditation, and yoga.

Meditation, Stress Management, And Yoga

Mindfulness techniques like meditation and stress management may help regulate involuntary body functions, reduce stress, and produce calm and relaxation—all of which may help recovering individuals prevent relapse and manage addiction symptoms and behaviors long-term.

Meditation not only calms and relaxes a person, but opens their creative mind and helps them regulate emotions.

Yoga is a stress-management and mindfulness technique that has results similar to meditation, and engages the body completely to achieve unity of the body and mind. Yoga can provide a number of benefits for people in addiction recovery, such as:

  • emotional healing
  • increase in physical strength and endurance
  • increase in self-confidence and self-image
  • improved sleep/decrease in fatigue
  • relief from pain or stress
  • renewed sense of awareness and sense of self

Medication-Assisted Therapy Vs. Holistic Therapy

Medication-assisted therapy, such as with Suboxone (buprenorphine) used in treating those in withdrawal from opioids or alcohol, is another method to help addicted individuals reach their goal of healing as a whole. For some people in rehab, detoxification is a necessary first step, and with it comes uncomfortable and even painful withdrawal symptoms.

Perhaps an individual will choose to heal with the aid of medication and move on to therapies like adventure or wilderness therapy which utilize nature. Or, perhaps they’ll choose to heal with acupuncture, yoga, and a combination of other therapies and avoid the use of medications altogether. The most important factor is that each individual reaches recovery goals in a way that’s best for them.

Choosing A Holistic Treatment Program

In choosing a treatment program that fits an individual’s needs, it may be best to examine the holistic healing approaches of certain rehab centers and get a full clinical assessment to understand which conditions will be the focus of treatment.

An assessment will help determine the duration of substance abuse, the degree of it, whether a person needs detoxification, identify any nutritional deficiencies or co-occurring substance use disorders or mental health disorders, and more. Knowing the full extent of treatment needs is important to getting the right care and building a program that fits individual needs.

Many inpatient drug rehab centers will provide a full clinical assessment before the start of treatment, so they can design a holistic program that meets individual needs. Whichever rehab center a person chooses, it’s important that it provides excellent quality of care, a variety of treatment methods, and a welcoming, peaceful healing environment.

Learn more today about holistic rehab centers by contacting RehabCenter.net.

Click Here to View “Holistic Rehab For Substance Abuse” Infographic

America Holistic Health Association - Holistic Approach to the Addiction Recovery Process

Yale School of Medicine - Ear Acupuncture: A Tool for Recovery

Psychology Today- https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ending-addiction-good/201305/the-connection-between-nutrition-and-addiction-recovery - The Connection Between Nutrition and Addiction Recovery -

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