Substance use disorders are among the costliest medical and public health problems in the United States, with 23 million individuals needing treatment annually, but only 25% of them receiving it.1 Integrative Mental Health (IMH), which embraces a bio-psycho-spiritual model, is playing a role in how we treat addiction and substance use issues.2 Holistic treatment centers incorporate mainstream approaches, such as psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions, as well as alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, herbal and nutritional medicine, yoga, and meditation.2 A holistic center can treat addiction and provide tools that promote whole-body health through this integrative approach.
In combination with standard treatment practices, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and medical detoxification, a holistic rehabilitation center offers services that aim to foster comprehensive health: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Holistic treatments might include:
- Tennis, swimming, yoga, and other forms of exercise.
- Acupuncture, massage, and herbal medicines.
- Nutritional counseling.
- Guided meditation.
- Opportunities to attend church, temple, or another religious establishment.
- Spiritual growth classes.
- Equine therapy.
- Rock climbing.
- Tai chi.
- Alternative healing techniques such as Reiki and rolfing.
- Outdoor excursions, such as beach walks.
- Vision boards and imagery.
DetoxificationDetox facilities provide a safe, medically supervised setting to help teens come off of drugs or alcohol. Treatment centers have different strengths and weaknesses, so you may need help to find the right one for your teenager. Read More
The holistic rehab philosophy focuses on the connection between your mind, body, and spirit. By working on all aspects of healing, holistic centers aim to attack addiction from all sides. Treatment plans aim to address the underlying reasons for addiction while also rebuilding the body and cultivating the confidence and peace needed to continue the recovery journey.
In response to the limitations of biomedical psychiatry, various alternative models have been advanced to more adequately explain the causes of mental health issues.2 And while holistic treatment appeared on the scene later than traditional programs, the movement is gaining momentum. Whole-body treatment programs have been successful with people who have not responded to traditional rehab and for those who do not want pharmacologic interventions.
A center that focuses on whole-body healing usually has extra facilities designed to promote all-around health. Some centers have whirlpools, saunas, or spas to promote relaxation, while others have fitness facilities or provide transportation to gyms and exercise classes. Many holistic centers are in secluded areas or incorporate a natural setting into their treatment programs, allowing participants to meditate or practice yoga outdoors.
People who have addictions often report that they feel an inner void, which they have tried to fill with drugs and alcohol. But when they receive treatment for the addiction, the void remains. Holistic centers seek to fill the spiritual emptiness by helping clients develop a personal spiritual connection. Some centers have spiritual counselors who work one-on-one with clients on their individual spiritual goals. The specific process differs from person to person, and holistic rehab centers tailor their programs to work with each person’s beliefs and worldview.
To boost physical health, holistic rehab centers focus on nutritious meals that are designed to heal from the inside out. Patients have access to fresh foods without having to plan or prepare them.
Holistic treatment centers are known for integrating Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) into their programs. CAM is a group of diverse medical and health practices that fall outside the scope of conventional medicine.3 The demand for CAM by the general public is increasing despite the fact that its use is largely paid by consumers who don’t have complementary therapy coverage by third-party payers.4
Some popular CAM interventions include:3
- Deep-breathing exercises.
- Diet-based therapies.
Nontraditional, holistic programs treat the entire person by helping them improve self-esteem and self-worth, learn life skills, gain control over addictive patterns, and improve their physical health. Holistic treatment facilities are similar to traditional treatment centers in the typical length of stay. Most holistic rehab programs last 30, 60, or 90 days; some last longer. Residents are generally encouraged to stay as long as possible, but this decision often depends on what their insurance will cover and what they can afford out of pocket.4
Many holistic treatment facilities are suitable for people with dual diagnoses; they offer treatments to address both mental health and substance use problems. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), treatment should address other possible mental disorders besides substance addictions. Additionally, research shows that people with co-occurring mental health issues are more likely to seek out both inpatient and outpatient services.1,5
Common stages of treatment may include:5
- Detox. This first stage of treatment may help manage the potentially dangerous effects of stopping alcohol and drug use. This may or may not include medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
- Assessment and the development of individualized treatment plan with goals. The treatment team (medical staff, counselors, and other care providers) develops a treatment plan based on the initial assessment and specific recovery goals.
- Individual counseling and group therapy. Therapists and trained professionals conduct one-on-one psychotherapy sessions to discuss values, life goals, and personal challenges. Rehab programs also offer group therapy on topics such as anger management, trauma, and relapse prevention.
- 12-step meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12-step meetings may be offered to residents in treatment.
- Aftercare planning. The treatment team and staff work to develop an ongoing treatment plan for the client upon discharge of their residential stay.
- Discharge. This is the last stage, when a client is officially released from the residential facility. A client is typically discharged upon completion of the program requirements, but may be discharged for other reasons, such as violating the rules.
A client is typically discharged upon completion of the program requirements, but may be discharged for other reasons, such as violating the rules.
Behavioral therapies help patients change behaviors related to drug use, build positive life skills, and cope with life events.5
Common therapies used in treatment may include:5,6
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of therapy uses behavioral modification to change unhealthy behaviors.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). This therapy focuses on enhancing the client’s emotional regulation skills and learning to cope with specific challenges and life events.
- Family counseling. These educational groups allow friends and family to engage in the patient’s treatment and to understand the recovery process, as well as to work through family system issues.
- Motivational interviewing (MI). A clinical style in which the practitioner elicits positive “change talk” and helps clients resolve ambivalence that often prevents them from making positive changes.
- Equine therapy. Activities with horses are used to improve mental health.
How to Choose a Program
When researching holistic drug and alcohol rehab centers, it is important to ask detailed questions so you know exactly what the program offers. Treatment can be a big investment of your time and resources, and your needs are important.
Some issues to consider when researching programs include:
- The rehab’s location and associated costs. Determine where the rehab is located and if the travel costs are feasible.
- The overall cost and payment options. Review your payment options and know exactly when the first payment or fees are due. Also consider how you will afford them.
- The treatment approach. Center philosophies can vary widely, from 12-step to evidence-based to faith-based. Make sure you are aligned with the center’s philosophy and treatment modalities.
- The experience and personalities of the staff. Research the credentials of the staff, especially the clinical director, and take note of the general attitude. (Are the people warm, friendly, and accommodating?)
- Amenities. Does the center come equipped with services you want (e.g., pool, spa, gym)?
- Whether it can treat mental health issues. If you have or suspect you have a mental disorder in addition to your substance addiction, can the facility treat this dual diagnosis?
- Whether aftercare or alumni programs are available to speak with. Ask to talk with the aftercare department to find out if and how they help you post-treatment.
- Online reviews of other people’s experiences. Look up rehab reviews and ask to speak to former patients or family members of program graduates to get an objective view of the rehab’s overall quality.
Cognitive Behavioral TherapyThere are many forms of treatment to choose from, but the one that has proven to be fundamental in helping treat addictions and many mental health issues is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. Talk to nearly any drug and alcohol treatment program, and they will tell you CBT is their cornerstone treatment modality. CBT has been extensively studied and demonstrated to be highly effective during treatment, with the skills learned lasting long after a patient leaves the program. Read More
Cost and Payment
Holistic drug and alcohol programs are quite expensive and may require private pay. The cost can be affected by several factors, such as length of stay, amenities, location, your insurance coverage, and any extra therapies/treatments you receive, as well as other factors. Even if your insurance covers part of the program fees, it may not cover your entire stay. Get this information up front so you are well informed and can make proper financial arrangements.
Options to pay for treatment may include:
- Insurance. Some facilities accept health insurance, but you should check with them and your insurance provider to know exactly what is covered. Other centers may not accept private insurance.
- Out-of-pocket/private pay. Cash pay is welcomed at almost all private rehabs.
- Payment plans. The rehab center may allow you to set up a scheduled payment plan, and they may work with you based on your income to afford the program costs.
- Borrowing. Friends and family members who support your recovery may be a viable resource for financial help.
- Loans. You can look into bank loans or loans from private lenders, corporate sponsorships, or others.
- Credit cards. Opening a line of credit to pay for treatment may be an option, but make sure you are able to afford the monthly payments.
- Liquidation of assets. Do you have any private assets that you can cash out to pay for your treatment? You must weigh their importance against that of your health.
- Crowdsourcing. Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and similar websites are gaining popularity in fundraising for individual health care costs. People are often inspired and willing to donate, even if it’s a small amount.
- Greenfield, S., Azzone, V., Huskamp, H., Cuffel, B., Croghan, T., Goldman, W., & Frank, R. (2004). Treatment for Substance Use Disorders in a Privately Insured Population Under Managed Care: Costs and Services Use. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 27(4), 265–275.
- Lake, J., Helgason, C., & Sarris, J. (2012). Integrative Mental Health (IMH): Paradigm, Research, and Clinical Practice. Explore, 8(1), 50–57.
- National Institutes of Health. (2016). The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States.
- Pelletier, K. & Astin, J. (2002). Integration and Reimbursement of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by Managed Care and Insurance Providers: 2000 Update and Cohort Analysis. Alternative Therapies, 8(1), 38–48.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (1999). Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment.