Drug and alcohol addiction can be a difficult and painful situation, not only for the addict but for those who love them. Addiction can be difficult to overcome and all types have a high risk of relapse. Because of the difficulty in overcoming addiction, many people are turning to holistic methods to treat addiction to drugs or alcohol. These five new, innovative ways to address addiction are showing promise in many treatment settings.
Throughout the world, cultures have used aromatherapy for centuries and involves using various plants along with aromatic ingredients to produce scents that encourage mental, physical and spiritual health. Essential oils, made from the oils of particular plants using a method called distillation. The oils created can have up to a hundred different compounds in it that can be used for different things. Like most therapies, aromatherapy does not cure addiction, but it provides benefits to those in the recovery process. Essential oils can help people relax which is especially helpful to people who are early in the recovery process. Aromatherapy can also help with brain function that can be impaired in addicted individuals. Difficulty sleeping can sometimes cause those in recovery to relapse and essential oils can help addicts fall asleep easier, reducing that possibility.
Yoga and Meditation
The most commonly used method for dealing with addiction is the traditional 12-step process that has been successful for many addicts. However, a typical 12-step process does not address three things that are critical to creating the important building blocks for a stronger recovery – body, breath and diet. For this reason, addicts are adding yoga and meditation once they are through the detoxification phase of rehab. Many experts have found that yoga and meditation help lift an addicted person out of the cycle of addiction and provides a new level of awareness that promotes detoxification as well as moving them out of the energy of addiction. Yoga and meditation teach the addict to look inward to develop the skills to battle the demons that led them to addiction initially and prevent them from returning.
One of the best known alternative treatments, acupuncture, is also being used to treat those who are suffering from addiction. Although still fairly new in Western countries, the practice has been used in Eastern countries for thousands of years. In oriental medicine, health is viewed as a maintenance of balance between Yin and Yang. When these are not in harmony, illness develops. Acupuncture stimulates specific points on the skin by inserting needles, although more modern methods using lasers have also been developed. Micro-acupuncture uses points, normally on the feet, hands, scalp and ear that have been correlated with balancing and restorative functions of the body. More than 2,000 drug and alcohol treatment programs have begun using ear acupuncture as part of addiction recovery. It is especially showing promise in resistant patients by reducing anxiety and agitation and helping addicts develop a meditative core.
Recovery is a process and it is often an extremely difficult one. Many times, the addict has difficulty articulating their feelings, which is why most traditional therapies focus on the mind. However, there are many who believe that the mind, body and spirit are connected, which could lead to addictive personalities when the three are not in sync. Many times, addicts ignore the body when they are in the throes of addiction and there is little known about what causes one person to be addicted while another is not. For this reason, some addiction programs are turning to massage therapy. Regardless of what someone is addicted to, whether it is alcohol, drugs, food or something else, when they get the hit of whatever they are addicted to, dopamine floods the reward system of the brain. This is why many believe that massage therapy can help those in recovery from addiction. Massage releases dopamine and serotonin while decreasing cortisol. It has proven especially beneficial to those in the early stages of recovery. Massage also addresses pain, agitation, anxiety and sleep problems, allowing the body to release fewer stress hormones.
Healthy nutrition is a critical part of addiction recovery as anyone who has seen an addict can attest. Most addicts eat irregularly and when they do it is usually not healthy options. Few addicts are used to eating healthy, nutritious meals on a regular basis that include fresh vegetables and lean proteins. Experts say that, in the early stages of recovery, nutrition, exercise and better health are critical for obtaining and sustaining addiction recovery. When the addict is healthy, they are better able to focus on the psychological and spiritual issues that led to the addictive behavior.
As more addicts begin looking for holistic methods for escaping from their addiction, new, innovative methods for recovery will be discovered. It is important to remember that many holistic methods simply look at the mind, body and spirit as a whole, rather than focusing solely on the mind as the problem in addiction. By developing harmony in all three, an addict has a better chance of success.