Over the past few decades, there have been many psychologists and addiction treatment specialists who have advocated for holistic treatments for recovering addicts and alcoholics. More often than not, many doctors are prescribing these treatments for recovering addicts who suffer from anxiety and depression because too often, a pill was the only viable solution in the past. The problem is that many of these pills that treat anxiety and depression, especially benzodiazepines, can be dangerous and addictive themselves. Holistic treatments pose less negative side effects and teach addicts who are often fraught with worry to calm their minds when faced with troubling circumstances.

Kool Living Recovery, along with other treatment centers, offers different holistic treatment options as part of the overall recovery plan. These include meditation and yoga, two time-tested methods that induce relaxation, and change destructive thinking patterns so more rational, logical decisions can be made. There are other holistic treatments for addiction, which include acupuncture, and forms of vigorous exercise, to name a few. So why exactly do these holistic treatments work, and how effective are they to fully battling addiction? Here are some details to know about the forms of holistic treatment, and how they help battle chronic drug and alcohol abuse.

1. Yoga. Yoga is a complementary health practice, which means that doctors and psychologists usually prescribe it on top of other various forms of treatment. The Yoga Journal describes yoga as, “the use of physical postures to learn how to connect mind, body and breath to gain self-awareness and focus attention inward.” Some of the many benefits of yoga include stress relief, increased physical stamina, self-reflection, heightened self-confidence, better sleep, and pain relief, according to American Addiction Centers.

Yoga benefits recovering addicts because it works specifically on centers of the brain to decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, all of which leads to a reduction of stress through the reduction of cortisol. Because recovering addicts suffer from high levels of anxiety and depression due to a decrease in dopamine production from discontinuing drug and alcohol use, yoga can help the brain recover dopamine production so it can work in a natural fashion once again. Those who practice yoga also learn how to monitor their breathing so when a stressful thought or additive urge is triggered, the recovering addict can battle it in a calm, meditative state.

2. Meditation. Yoga and meditation often go hand in hand. According to Psychology Today, meditation can “help us develop the capacity to clear exactly what we’re so attached to so we can let go of it and end our suffering.” Because addiction stems from emotional pain and unhealthy attachments, mindful meditation can combat this type of negative thinking and enhance a healthy, centered, thought processes.

Meditation can be as simple as breathing properly, prayer, or listening to a relaxation tape. One can meditate by lying still and listening to calming music, or they can go through more rigorous forms of meditation by having someone guide them through it. There are even meditation exercises that specifically help those who are suffering from addiction.

3. Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a controversial practice that began in China thousands of years ago and has been used throughout modern times for pain management, stress, addiction, and even infertility. Though many scientists say there is no evidence that acupuncture works better than a placebo effect, just as many doctors and holistic practitioners say otherwise. Acupuncture uses tiny needles that are put on certain trigger points on the body in order to stimulate the flow of Qi (life energy), which improves when it is less obstructed. The needles work to get rid of any obstruction in Qi throughout the body.

Though it is not certain how or why acupuncture works from a scientific standpoint, proponents of the practice claim that acupuncture can affect the dopamine receptors in the brain, which directly relates to the addictive state. According to Recovery.org, “acupuncture is believed to decrease the positive and negative reinforcements of addiction and therefore reduce drug use.”

4. Other forms of exercise. While yoga can be a form of exercise, not everyone finds it enjoyable or helpful. Some prefer more traditional methods of releasing stress-such as strenuous cardio or weight lifting. Exercise can be simply taking a walk, going on a bike ride, running, exercise classes, weight lifting, and more. The benefits of exercise are numerous, and much scientific evidence exists now to correlate mood improvement with moderate exercise. One study of patients who exercised routinely during an addiction treatment program reported, “a sense of accomplishment, feeling stronger, improved health, and increased confidence in staying clean and sober.”

Exercise helps those who suffer from addiction because it increases endorphins in the brain, which are responsible for feelings of well-being and contentment. Also, many recovering addicts have wreaked havoc on their body from years of drug and alcohol addiction. Working out can help restore the body back to health, while giving the addict a boost of confidence. Working out everyday also helps addicts develop a routine, which can be key towards feeling in control of one’s life.

Talk with a doctor or certified addiction specialist about holistic treatment options. Before starting any course of treatment plan, it is always important to discuss all options with a physician or experienced treatment counselor, such as the ones at Kool Living Recovery. Holistic options are not the only way to treat addiction alone; they must be complementary to meetings, counseling, working with a sponsor, and in or outpatient rehab programs. However, they can be a part of a wide approach towards treating the emotional and physical ailments that come from chronic drug and alcohol abuse.

Are you or someone you know struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol? Contact Footprints Behavioral Health at 949-558-4723  and speak to one of our certified treatment counselors, Linda Rose. Start planning your road map to recovery today.