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Alcohol & Health
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Updated on September 15, 2023
5 min read

What Is a Holistic Addiction Treatment Program?

Holistic addiction treatment focuses on a person’s body, mind, and spirit to help them recover from addiction. The goal is to focus on a person’s overall well-being to treat addiction symptoms. 

For most people, addiction is more than their body’s physical craving for the drug. Things in a person’s environment, as well as their mental and physical health, play a significant role in addiction. 

Holistic treatment aims to:

  • Reduce the appeal of the substance
  • Strengthen a person’s resistance
  • Encourage physical activity
  • Boost self-confidence
  • Improve a person’s social environment

What Is the Holistic Approach?

A holistic approach is a belief that everything is connected. Treating the whole person, rather than just their symptoms, is essential to achieving optimal health.

Focusing on one’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being is vital to long-term recovery. Holistic addiction treatment is a therapy that looks at the person as a whole – body, mind, and spirit.

Benefits of Holistic Treatment for Substance Abuse

The most excellent use of holistic treatment for substance abuse is that it treats the entire person, not just the addiction. Here are other advantages of holistic medicine:

Comprehensive and Individualized

A holistic approach considers various aspects of a person’s health, allowing for a complete healing approach by addressing the underlying issues contributing to addiction. Professionals customize holistic treatment plans for the individual.

It Helps You Understand Yourself

The multi-faceted environment of holistic treatment provides an opportunity to gain insight into the factors that have led to addiction. Understanding yourself better can help build a foundation for long-term recovery.

Better Overall Health

Since holistic treatments focus on the whole person, they often include activities that promote better physical and mental health. Holistic therapies also use natural remedies, resulting in fewer side effects than traditional treatments.

More Control and Empowerment

Holistic treatment plans often employ techniques that give you more control over your recovery. This helps you build self-esteem and gain life skills that allow you to stay sober for longer after treatment.


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Therapies Used in Holistic Treatment

There are several different holistic therapies, including:

Art Therapy

Professionals have been using art in addiction treatment since the 1940s. Art therapy aims to understand one’s addiction through creative expression. 

Those using art therapy in their recovery process use a variety of media, including:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sculpture
  • Collage

Music Therapy

Listening to and playing music is a very emotional experience for many people. During music therapy, emotions can reveal necessary information about a person’s addiction and mental health challenges.

Music therapy can help a person understand their addiction. It’s also known to be especially helpful for those with co-occurring disorders.

Massage Therapy

Massages stimulate the lymph system, speeding detox and reducing substance cravings. It decreases anxiety and makes substance use triggers more manageable. Many people also find it comforting because massage therapy involves human touch.

Animal Therapy

Animals are popular for treating various health issues, including alcohol and drug addiction. Animal therapy involves introducing animals into a therapeutic environment.

Many conventional psychotherapists have begun to incorporate therapy animals into their practices. Interacting with a therapy animal during addiction treatment tends to:

  • Improve the therapeutic environment
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve the relationship between counselor and patient

Horticulture Therapy

Gardens stimulate all five senses, and gardening boosts self-esteem and reduces stress. Horticulture therapy uses gardening to promote health and well-being and can range from simply spending time in the garden and outdoors to tending a garden. 


Mediation is one of the best relaxation tools that can help overcome addiction. Practitioners have found it helps them resist cravings and avoid relapse.

It pairs well with a variety of other conventional and holistic treatments. During meditation, a person recognizes and addresses their cravings before they become overwhelming.


Prayer works similarly to meditation but has an added component of the person finding or restoring a relationship with a higher power. Many have found this to be extremely helpful when dealing with addiction. 

Prayer can:

  • Offer relief from anxiety and fear
  • Allow someone to feel balanced in mind and spirit
  • Help someone experience feelings of joy and peace
  • Ease symptoms of depression and anxiety


Acupuncturing uses the belief that the body possesses meridian points, and stimulating these points encourages self-healing.

Those who have used acupuncture to treat addiction have found it:

  • Reduces cravings
  • Eases unpleasant withdrawal symptoms
  • It helps with regulating emotions
  • Eases physical pain
  • Soothes anxiety
  • Regulates sleeping patterns


Yoga treats a variety of mental and physical health issues, including:

Yoga involves physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. It can do the following to help reduce cravings and the risk of relapse:

  • Reduce pain
  • Alleviate stress and anxiety
  • Prevent insomnia

Tai Chi

One theory of why Tai Chi works is it dislodges the toxic debris that accumulates in the body’s tissue after drug and alcohol use. The activity stimulates the lymph system, which speeds up the detoxification process.

Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art involving slow, controlled movements and deep breathing sequences. It offers many emotional and physical benefits, including decreased anxiety and depression.

How Effective Is The Holistic Approach to Addiction Treatment?

Holistic addiction treatment is effective, especially when combined with traditional therapies.4 Many mainstream rehabilitation programs incorporate holistic approaches into treatment practices.

In some cases, holistic therapy might not work, but that is possible with all treatments. The key to successfully using holistic medicine is to be willing to change their lifestyle.


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Holistic treatment for substance use disorder is an excellent option for people who want to address their addiction comprehensively. This treatment combines traditional and alternative methods to help you overcome alcohol dependence. It can help you gain insight into the underlying causes of your addiction and build a foundation for lasting sobriety.

Updated on September 15, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on September 15, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Lin et al. “Acupuncture for the Treatment of Opiate Addiction.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
  2. “Principles of Effective Treatment.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018.
  3. La Plante C. “Massage and Addiction | Massage Therapy Journal.” Www.Amtamassage.Org, 2013.
  4. Adedoyin et al. “Revisiting Holistic Interventions in Substance Abuse Treatment.” Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 2014.
  5. Tabish, SA. "Complementary and Alternative Healthcare: Is it Evidence-based?" Int J Health Sci (Qassim), 2008.
  6. Ventegodt et al. "Concepts of Holistic Care." Health Care for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities across the Lifespan, 2016.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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