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10 Types of Holistic Treatment for Alcoholism

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Holistic programs can be pivotal to successful recovery because it helps you transition into a healthier lifestyle. Holistic treatment does more than just help you detox or overcome alcohol cravings. Holistic treatment for alcoholism treats all elements of who you are as a person.

What is Holistic Treatment?

Holistic addiction treatment aims attention on an individual’s body, mind, and spirit to help them recover from addiction. The goal is to obtain total well-being and treat specific addiction symptoms at the same time. For most people, addiction is about more than just their physical craving for the drug. There are things in the person’s environment, along with their mental and physical health that play a minor part in addiction.

10 Types of Holistic Treatment for AlcoholismWhat is the Purpose of Holistic Treatment for Alcoholism?

The purpose of holistic treatment is to:

  • Reduce the desirability of the substance
  • Strengthen a person’s resistance ability
  • Improve a person’s social environment
  • Encourage physical activity
  • Build up self-confidence

10 Holistic Treatments for Alcoholism

There are several holistic therapies that may be used to treat alcoholism, which is now referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD). Here are 10 types of holistic treatment approaches:

1. Art Therapy

This type of therapy has been used in addiction treatment since the 1940s. People using art therapy use an assortment of media including:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Collage
  • Sculpture

The idea behind art therapy is to understand your addiction better through expressing yourself creatively.

2. Music Therapy

Music is used to help a person understand their addiction. It’s especially helpful for people with co-occurring disorders such as depression. The emotional experience of listening to and playing music can help reveal a person’s challenges with addiction and mental health.

3. Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can offer many types of benefits. It lowers anxiety and makes addiction triggers more manageable. Massages can stimulate the lymph system which speeds detox and reduces cravings.

4. Animal Therapy

Many traditional psychotherapists have started to include therapy animals in their treatment. Being able to interact with a therapy animal during addiction treatment appears to improve the therapy environment, reduce anxiety, and help the relationship between therapist and patient.

5. Horticulture Therapy

Horticulture therapy uses gardening to improve health and feelings of well-being. Gardening stimulates all five senses, boosts self-esteem, and reduces stress.

6. Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation is one of the best relaxation tools there is. People who practice mindfulness find that it helps them resist cravings and avoid relapse. They train you to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and cravings instead of reacting to them. Meditation and mindfulness go well with other traditional and holistic treatments.

7. Prayer

Prayer is similar to meditation but has an additional element of the person discovering or restoring a relationship with a higher power. It can provide relief from anxiety and fear and allow a person to feel balanced in their mind and spirit. Also, it may soothe symptoms of anxiety and depression which may reduce the risk of relapse.

8. Acupuncture

Acupuncture uses the belief that the body has meridian points and that stimulating these points aids in self-healing. People who have used acupuncture to treat addiction have found that it helps to:

  • Reduce cravings
  • Ease withdrawal symptoms
  • Relieve physical pain
  • Regulate emotions
  • Regulate sleep
  • Lower anxiety

Researchers aren’t actually sure how it works, but the theory is that it decreases dopamine levels when drugs are used, making it less enjoyable.

9. Yoga

Yoga treats a number of mental and physical health problems such as anxiety and depression and includes addiction and common co-occurring disorders. Importantly, yoga:

  • Reduces pain
  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Prevents insomnia, which all contribute to cravings and the risk of relapse

10. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a martial art that involves sequences of deep breathing and slow, controlled movements. It provides both emotional and physical benefits including decreased depression and anxiety. Since it combines physical and emotional aspects, many people believe it is more effective for recovery than other forms of exercise or meditation. One theory is that it forces out the toxic waste that builds up in the body’s tissues from alcohol use. 

The Philosophy of Holistic Therapy

When talking about addiction, all holistic methods begin with the same basic viewpoint: people develop addictions to try to correct an “imbalance” within them. Individuals suffering from addiction become stuck, unaware, and unable to handle their thoughts, feelings, and actions. 

Therefore they may drink or use drugs to disconnect from their weakness.

Holistic therapies work to restore balance by connecting mind and body. They remove some of the underlying causes of dependence by helping people become aware of and take responsibility for the way they feel, think, and act. The basic goal of many holistic therapies is to return the body to its naturally healthy state. 

What are the Benefits of Holistic Treatment for Alcoholism?

The greatest benefit of holistic treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the fact that it seeks to treat the whole person, not just the addiction. Individuals fighting addiction combine several holistic therapies, often with traditional therapy approaches to create an all-inclusive treatment plan. Holistic therapies can be separated into five different types which might overlap each other. They include:

  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Nutritional
  • Environmental

The Importance of An Open Mind

As is the case with all treatments, holistic therapy might not work. It helps to have an open mind about using it. Still, it isn’t necessary for the person to wholeheartedly believe the therapy will work.

A lot of people begin using a holistic approach even though they aren’t sure how effective it will be. They subsequently learn that it played an important role in their recovery. These approaches tend to be the most effective when used in combination with traditional approaches. The key to using holistic therapy successfully is that the person has to be willing to change their lifestyle.

Treatment for AUD

Depending on your individual needs, treatment for alcohol use disorder can vary. Your treatment might include:

  • brief intervention
  • individual or group therapy
  • outpatient program or a residential stay

However, working to stop using alcohol to improve your quality of life is the main treatment goal. 

Typically, treatment for AUD includes:

Detox and Withdrawal

Treatment often begins with a program of detoxification (detox). This is a withdrawal that is medically managed. This usually takes 2 to 7 days. Sedating medications might be necessary to ease or prevent withdrawal symptoms. Detox is usually done in an inpatient detox center or a hospital.

Establishing a Treatment Plan and Learning Skills

Typically, this involves alcohol treatment specialists and:

  • Counseling
  • Goal setting
  • Use of self-help manuals
  • Techniques for changing behavior
  • Follow-up care at a treatment center


The drug disulfiram (Antabuse) may help keep you from drinking, but it doesn’t “cure” alcohol use disorder or eliminate the urge to drink. When you drink alcohol, the drug causes a physical reaction that might include flushing, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. 

Naltrexone is a drug that blocks the pleasurable feelings alcohol causes. This helps prevent heavy drinking and reduces the urge to drink. Acamprosate helps you fight the alcohol cravings once you have stopped drinking. But unlike disulfiram, acamprosate doesn’t make you feel sick if you have a drink.

Vivitrol is another version of naltrexone. It’s injected once a month by a medical professional. Although similar medication can be taken in pill form, the injectable drug is easier for people recovering from AUD to use consistently.

Ongoing Support

Aftercare programs and support groups help people recovering from AUD to quit drinking, manage relapses, and cope with essential lifestyle changes. These could include medical or psychological care or attending a support group. 

Addiction Therapy

Other mental health disorders often occur with AUD. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or another mental condition, psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication, or other treatment may be needed.

Spiritual Practice

Individuals who are involved with some sort of regular spiritual practice often find it easier to maintain their recovery from AUD or other addictions. For many people, having a greater insight into their spiritual side is an important element in recovery. This is where a holistic approach to alcoholism is a benefit. You don’t need to have a religious affiliation to practice spirituality.

Residential Treatment

If you are struggling with a serious AUD, you might need to stay at a residential treatment facility. Most residential programs include:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Addiction educational lectures
  • Support groups
  • Family therapy
  • Activity therapy

Outpatient Treatment Programs

People whose addiction is less severe may be able to enter an outpatient treatment program. There are several levels of outpatient programs that vary by the time required at the treatment facility. Outpatient, as well as residential programs, typically include:

  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Licensed alcohol and drug counselors
  • Other people with experience and expertise in treating AUD

Find Your Balance at New Directions for Women

New Directions for Women has female-only treatment facilities located in Costa Mesa, CA. Because we treat only women, our staff members are experts and experienced in understanding how substance use disorders such as AUD affect women’s lives. At New Directions, we also know the stigma against women who admit that they need help and the difficulties they have in getting treatment. 

Many women are uncomfortable sharing their issues in a group with men. Regardless of the situation, we are here to provide individualized care for women who need help overcoming their addiction and building a rewarding family life. 

New Directions can offer you:

  • Detox services
  • Partial day treatment
  • Intensive outpatient treatment
  • Sober living program
  • Aftercare programs
  • Therapy–including holistic therapies 

Contact us today. We can help you every step of your recovery journey.

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