Allopathy, better known as mainstream medicine, certainly has its place. For example, if you break a bone, there is nothing else at play behind the injury, so there’s no need to address issues like anxiety or poor sleep habits. The bone simply needs to be fixed. However, there are some areas of treatment in which allopathic medicine isn’t enough, such as addiction rehab. For this, a holistic approach, which addresses underlying causes and treats the whole person, is widely considered to be the ideal approach.
Substance addiction is usually a symptom of things going on in the environment, brain and body. Naturally, just targeting one of these issues and putting a band-aid on it does nothing to solve the underlying problem and may even make things worse. Holistic rehabilitation offers a total solution by trying to identify and treat what may be causing the addiction in the first place.
From the moment a patient arrives at our treatment program, we begin taking a holistic approach to the problem. Each patient is assessed to help us find out why they’re addicted, what caused it to grow out of hand and to discover any underlying psychological issues that may be promoting it. It’s not surprising that the majority of these assessments come back as positive for psychiatric problems. In non-holistic rehab centers, only the addiction is treated and the underlying causes are ignored, swept under the rug or treated with yet more drugs. For this reason, it’s unsurprising that patients treated with such methods have a staggeringly high rate of relapse.
Drug addiction is a long and complex path, but many people find themselves on it only after becoming sick or injured. Painkillers or other drugs with a high abuse potential may be prescribed, and the patient learns to rely on the drugs to control their pain. Eventually, many even begin taking these medications for recreational purposes, or simply to avoid the unpleasant withdrawals. From this, an addiction is born. It’s simple enough to say that those people should just stop. However, most of these patients continue to suffer from chronic pain that is difficult to manage, which may be caused by injuries, arthritis, nerve disorders, migraines or cancer.
Taking a patient off of their medication and admitting them to a traditional rehab facility will do nothing to help with the pain they’re in. Once they’re released, if their pain should continue or return, they might be incapable of tolerating it without pharmacological help. In cases like these, a relapse is almost inevitable. This common scenario is precisely what holistic rehabilitation aims to prevent.
For instance, patients struggling with arthritis often notice that swimming is helpful since is minimizes discomfort and increases their mobility. The warmth of the water enhances circulation and soothes and relaxes the muscles. Meanwhile, the water itself provides a means of low-impact exercise that doesn’t aggravate joint pain. People with chronic back pain tend to find physical therapy helpful. Once the muscles become stronger, patients often depend less on painkillers. Unlike allopathic rehab, holistic rehab usually includes exercise to help minimize pain.
Unresolved stress or other emotional issues are another reason why many people become addicted to alcohol or drugs. Such habits can sometimes be traced back to childhood, when patients would see mom or dad deal with stressful days with a few drinks. Addiction can also stem from adolescence, when peer pressure is at its greatest. A lot of high schoolers take drugs or drink alcohol against their better judgment in an attempt to fit in with the “cool” kids.
Holistic rehabilitation provides patients with an opportunity to discover better ways of handling stress, ones that don’t involve drugs and alcohol. One method is by encouraging mindfulness through meditation. This helps patients learn to reflect on stressful events without losing control of their emotions. They focus on their breathing and allow the thoughts to pass without reacting.
For people who tend to label events as bad or upsetting, and then resort to substance abuse to quell their turmoil, this can be amazingly beneficial. According to a study from the Journal of Addiction Medicine, patients who received training in mindfulness meditation reported that the activity helped them avoid relapse. Moreover, nearly half of study participants were able to abstain completely by using this method.
In traditional rehab programs, patients may be told that their addiction is the only issue at hand. They’re left with the idea that once they’re off of the drugs, they can go about life like nothing ever happened. Unfortunately, this is an oversimplified idea. Unless the patient comprehends their behavior and acknowledges that they tend to become addicted to things, they may simply replace one addiction with another. With holistic addiction treatment, patients can begin to understand how their brains work. This helps them discover, identify and make sense of risky behavior patterns that may lead them to make bad choices. This way, they can then learn how to avoid them.
One of the best things about holistic rehabilitation is that it’s self-reinforcing. As patients begin experiencing better physical and mental health, they are more likely to stay sober. Noticing how much better you feel is a powerful motivator. Patients may come away from the experience with a better appreciation of their health and well-being, and much of the time, they’re unwilling to sacrifice that by returning to substance abuse.