The phrase “holistic treatment” may conjure images of burning sage and healing crystals but it really just means treating the whole person. Holistic treatment is an approach to recovery that recognizes that you are more than the sum of your parts. It means treating addiction on the mental, physical, and spiritual levels and integrating those different aspects of your life so you can live in a more integrated way. Some elements common to holistic treatment programs such as meditation and yoga used to be considered fringe practices but now enjoy quite a bit of scientific support. The following are reasons why addiction treatment should be holistic.
The Mind and Body Are Not Separate
It is a common tendency to think of the mind and body as totally separate things. However, more and more research is finding that such a separation is an illusion. For example, there is now a lot of research connecting exercise and mental health. Similarly, research is mounting that what you eat affects your mental health and even that many “brain chemicals” such as serotonin are produced by gut microbes. Evidence even exists that causality points in the other direction too. In other words, worse mental health can lead to worse physical health.
In traditional 12-step programs such as AA, the mind-body connection often lacks representation. While 12-step programs address most of the big issues concerning addiction, such as the importance of living a life of integrity, social support and spiritual connection, discussion of physical health is commonly neglected. Awareness around the dependent relationship between mental/emotional and physical health must be acquired to support a well-rounded treatment for addiction.
Everyone Is Different
Holistic treatment is characterized by a variety of approaches. You might hit the gym in the morning and the meditation cushion in the afternoon. Maybe you receive massage therapy for stress or acupuncture for cravings. Odds are that many of these interventions will have little or no effect on you. That’s fine. The important thing is that you’re trying different things. In a traditional 12-step program, you might never discover that a good workout melts stress or that meditating helps you control your anger. You can take what works for you and leave the rest.
It Helps Strengthen Weak Links
As noted above, the mind and body are not separate. What happens to one affects the other. Consequently, weakness in either area requires immediate support in order to sustain healthy long-term recovery. Maybe you get physically healthy and find a good support network but are struggling with a mental health issue that’s not under control. Situations like this put your sobriety at risk. A multifaceted approach to recovery brings awareness and strength to areas needing additional support. Just as whole-body exercises like squats and deadlifts strengthen many muscles at once, holistic practices like exercise, meditation, yoga, writing, music, and others are activities that, when used together, make you stronger overall.
Looking for Support?
Holistic, or ‘whole person’ treatment is necessary because everyone is complex and unique. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, we help men become stronger mentally, physically and spiritually through our unique residential treatment program. To learn more, call us today at 855-202-2138.