Holistic & Alternative Treatments

Holistic medicines and therapy promises the same as traditional rehab, detox, and other care approaches whilst also providing spiritual support for the individual. 

Treating drug or alcohol abuse as a medical condition means it is not a moral or personal failing. It is something that can be managed, so the individual can be healthy and happy. Once the mind and body are free of substances, and the abuse patterns of behavior related to recovery have been addressed. 

Combining a holistic care approach to recovery, along with the help of conventional medicine, offers complete support for the person as a whole. This is the primary goal of holistic medicine as well as ours at Footprints to Recovery.

Holistic Care Approach Vs. Conventional Medicine

Addiction treatment should be tailored to each individual to be the most effective. With this in mind, each client’s personal needs should be addressed. This is where holistic approaches, like holistic detox, holistic rehab, holistic therapy, and holistic care, applied to an addiction treatment program, will help.

Science-based addiction treatment starts with drug or alcohol detox with medical supervision, followed by a recovery program that focuses on therapy. Depending on how long someone has struggled with addiction, approaches to detox and rehab will be different. 

In conventional medicine based recovery programs, the type of care is pretty standard; detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and then aftercare programs. This includes traditional medicines given during detox, followed by individual and group therapy sessions and meetings once graduating from the program. 

When you take a more holistic care approach to recovery and therapy, you have an increased focus on “spiritual” healing, not just the body and mind. 

The Most Popular Types Of Holistic Medicine In Addiction Recovery Programs

Some of the most popular types of treatments and therapies offered at a holistic recovery center include but are not limited to:


The practice of yoga is a form of stretching and strengthening the body, which is based on movements, prayer, and mindfulness. Movements through different postures, breathing in specific sequences, and meditation are the three core components of modern yoga. These help to center the mind in the body and in the present moment. Many addiction treatment programs provide yoga as one of several complementary; holistic care approaches options available.

The practice of yoga helps those in recovery develop a positive relationship with their bodies. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, which are struggles for many people during the recovery process. One of the reasons many people begin to abuse drugs or alcohol is because they struggle with high levels of stress, intense emotions, or mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. Finding new ways to manage these experiences helps to reduce the risk of relapse.

Meditation and Mindfulness

The current holistic practice of mindfulness is defined as the ability to be fully present, aware of the body, surroundings, and behaviors without reacting or feeling overwhelmed by emotional experiences and distractions. Mindfulness is based primarily on meditation. There are seated, walking, moving, or even standing methods and approaches of practicing mindfulness.

Overall, meditation is focused on the workings of the mind. The approach is one of natural curiosity without judgment. They have been shown to reduce stress and improve the ability to reactive behaviors. When meditation and mindfulness practices are included with conventional addiction treatment, these separate care approaches tend to last for about eight weeks, with guided instruction in a group therapy format.

During this practice, the therapist will target specific experiences, like cravings, and lead the group by applying mindfulness to these addiction struggles, whether it is drugs, alcohol, or both. Through this guided process, participants learn how to consciously recognize these subconscious or emotional experiences and find healthy ways to deal with them rather than reacting with stress, anxiety, and maladaptive behaviors.


This ancient and holistic practice consists of very thin needles that are strategically placed in the skin at pressure points in the body. This is designed to balance the flow of energy or life force through the body’s meridian points. Western approaches also claim that acupuncture can stimulate the nerves, connective tissue, and muscles to improve health and connection between the mind and body.

Studies on applying acupuncture as a holistic rehab therapy treatment during recovery show that the practice can suppress drugs’ reinforcement of maladaptive behaviors by modulating brain chemistry, especially dopamine and serotonin. While this may not work for everyone and may be detrimental for people who have abused injection drugs like heroin, it can be a good option for recovery in cases when talk therapy and moving the body do not help to reduce the person’s distress.

Fitness and Exercise

Creating a stronger body can help to stabilize brain chemistry and reduce the harmful effects of alcohol and/or drug abuse, which may include weight gain or muscle weakness. Exercising three times per week for six months improved most of the participants’ health. In a follow-up a year later, 10 participants reported that they had decreased their substance abuse, and 5 reported continued abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

Exercise practices can help to distract from cravings while adding structure and routine to one’s daily schedule. Going to group exercise classes, like yoga or cycling classes at a gym, can help to build positive social connections too, which supports ongoing recovery.

Biochemical Restoration

Struggling with drugs or alcohol imbalances brain chemistry, but it can also lead to an imbalance in other physiological systems, such as:

  • Hormones
  • Blood sugar
  • Adrenaline
  • Amino acids
  • Nutrition

Heavy metals and other toxic substances can build up in the body too. These require time and effort to flush out while keeping glands, the digestive system, and the circulatory system healthy. Some holistic drug detox and alcohol rehab programs offer laboratory tests to determine if those in recovery treatment need nutritional support. This includes additional vitamin and mineral supplements, to reverse these imbalances. 

When the body has fewer nutritional deficiencies and fewer hormonal or blood sugar imbalances, cravings may become less frequent and intense, which helps people to remain in recovery and avoid relapse.


Also called electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback, this holistic therapy helps addiction recovery and mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder. The person is linked to a computer that reads their active brainwaves through EEG. With a little explanation, these signals can help a person recognize areas of irregularity or distress and allow them immediate feedback to regulate and improve their brain functioning.

Typical neurofeedback sessions occur once a week over 20 weeks, though some holistic therapy programs may offer fewer or more frequent sessions, and some people may find they need more than 20 sessions total. Neurofeedback works well for many people since they have a visual representation of their brain’s activity that they can see changes in as they practice relaxation or other techniques. This holistic practice is not considered a cure. It is one of several holistic therapy tools that complements cognitive behavioral therapy or other forms of conventional therapy.

Other Holistic Treatment Approaches

While the above listed holistic treatments are some of the most studied, applied, and effective, other holistic forms of medicine or therapy are also increasingly important in recovery. 

Other holistic treatment approaches include but are not limited to:

  • Art Therapy: which uses a wide range of creative practices to ease stress and improve acceptance of drug and/or alcohol treatment.
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy: provides a way for those in recovery to “get out of their heads” and focus on something else in the present moment.
  • Massage Therapy:  uses human touch and muscle relaxation to boost mood, decrease pain, and create a sense of connection.
  • Guided Imagery: a form of meditation.
  • Nutritional Therapies: which may include cooking classes, classes on nutritional learning.

Not every recovery program offers these holistic options, but as medical research shows the effectiveness of holistic medicine in reducing stress, balancing brain chemistry, and improving overall health, many recovery center programs are adding some holistic care approach sessions to their conventional therapy schedule.

If you think holistic therapy or treatments to overcome drug or alcohol abuse and reduce the risk of relapse might support your other efforts in detox and rehab, you can seek out a holistic care approach program that offers these options. 

Be sure to ask about holistic health and medical practitioners’ credentials. Several organizations offer training and certification to individuals, and accreditation to institutions that provide holistic medicine, so you can know you are in good hands.

It is also important to use the standard model of addiction detox and rehab as a foundation of recovery. But adding holistic care approaches and medicine can support the process by reducing stress and improving focus on the present.

Are You Interested In Learning More About Holistic Therapy? Then Contact Us Today!

Are you or someone you know ready to begin your journey of sobriety through holistic or alternative treatments for your substance abuse issues? If so, let our medical professionals at Footprints to Recovery help you on this journey, let us be that help for you or your loved one. Contact us today, and we will answer any questions you might and provide any information you need. We will be the footprints alongside yours or your loved one on the journey towards recovery.

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