When a person suffers from a physical ailment, like a broken arm, there is a certain and well-trod path to recovery. However, when the problem is in both the body and the mind, as occurs with addiction, the treatment plan is much less certain. Everyone suffers from addiction differently, and as a result, most substance abusers require exceedingly personalized care to reach healthy and happy sobriety.
Unfortunately, much of addiction rehabilitation isn’t personalized at all. In fact, the vast majority of rehab centers provide the same three steps for recovery: detox, counseling and aftercare. While such a bare-bones approach can be effective in certain situations, many substance abusers need something more — and that’s where alternative programs come in.
Many inpatient drug rehab facilities are beginning to focus on different strategies for healing the mind and body of those afflicted by addiction. While they might not look like the rehab centers one expects, these facilities offer recovery and success thanks to personalized care through programs that have been shown to have a positive effect on many who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction — like these:
Massage doesn’t just feel good — it also has myriad positive impacts on the body and mind. Massage has been found to increase feel-good hormones, which serve to replace those often missing during recovery. Additionally, massage facilitates the removal of metabolic waste, which can build up during a period of addiction, and the therapy reduces the impacts of anxiety, depression and other psychological concerns that often accompany substance abuse. Massage is among the most popular alternative treatments available at rehab centers because it is known to be so effective in treatment.
Acupuncture is a treatment that involves inserting hair-thin needles at specific locations and depths around the body. An important element of Eastern medicine, acupuncture is said to facilitate the movement of energy through the body to improve the body’s own self-healing mechanisms. For those disinterested in needles, acupressure accomplishes a similar result through targeted, intense massage. While studies on acupuncture are mixed, with some demonstrating obvious success and others failing to reach a clear conclusion, many people find that acupuncture helps them control painful conditions, like substance withdrawal, with minimal risk.
The sense of smell is exceedingly undervalued. In truth, smell is among the most powerful sensations, deeply connected to memories and emotions in ways that remain poorly understood. This is why aromatherapy is a formidable tool in drug and alcohol rehab centers; it taps into the power of smell to assist in healing and promote well-being. Aromatherapy can take many forms, from essential oils dispersed in diffusers to aroma-laden lotions, skin masks, bath compounds and more. Different smells produce different effects in different people, so it is worthwhile to experiment with aromatherapy more than once.
Meditation is the art of centering oneself in the moment, gaining greater awareness and maintaining a healthy sense of self. There are almost uncountable ways to meditate, from lying down and listening to meditative tones to practicing breathing exercises to paying attention to one’s surroundings to mindfully exercising. The key to meditation is to monitor one’s thoughts and avoid harsh judgement of oneself, one’s environment, one’s community, etc. This is an especially important practice for those recovering from substance abuse because it helps one delve deeper into the causes of addiction, the lingering addictive behaviors and other thoughts and emotions detrimental to one’s life.
Chanting is a rhythmic, repetitive song, prayer, word or sound. It’s common to find people chanting in religious or spiritual environments, but chanting can be a wholly secular activity, as well. Like meditation, chanting focuses the mind on a particular concept, reducing uncontrolled, racing thoughts and emotions and helping a person develop positivity and resolve. Some researchers believe that chanting can have a physiological effect in reducing blood pressure and heart rate and increasing the presence of feel-good hormones.
Often, prolonged substance abuse results in an atrophied body and mind, which makes it difficult for those in recovery to integrate into the world without their addictive crutch. Yoga helps to bolster both body and mind through mindful movement, which requires strength, flexibility and intention. Another Eastern practice long used for health, yoga has recently been coopted by get-thin-quick schemes and lost much of its beneficial meaning. However, when yoga is practiced mindfully, it can function as a holistic training beneficial to addiction recovery.
It’s important to note that alternative treatments alone usually aren’t enough — those suffering from substance abuse need traditional treatment, too; detox, counseling and aftercare are paramount for ensuring a life free from dangerous substances. Still, the addition of holistic treatments like those listed above tend to bring greater relaxation, comfort and meaning to the process of sobriety, which might mean faster and longer-lasting success.