A Holistic Approach to Treating Addiction

A Holistic Approach to Treating Addiction

Anyone who has been affected by addiction knows that it is a complicated disease, which can impact a person both mentally, physically and even on a spiritual level. Additionally, there a multitude of factors which worsen an individual’s experience of addiction, including their financial situation, their environment and their support network.


These days there are many options in regards to treating individual’s with an addictive disorder, but is there such as a ‘one size fits all’ treatment?


Holistic treatments, by definition, treat the individual as a whole. The main idea behind the holistic approach to addiction is to treat each person according to their individual symptoms, causes, triggers and both physical and emotional needs.


The holistic approach encompasses both medical and non-medical treatments and often uses them in conjunction with one another to be able to provide healing for both mind and body. Treating the entirety of a person – both physically and mentally – provides an opportunity for lasting recovery and may reduce the risks of future relapses.


So what treatments and therapies are used in the holistic approach?


One advantage of the holistic approach is that it utilises a vast selection of methods to treat addiction. Although medication is still often used within the holistic approach, it is almost always combined with one or more non-medical treatments. These can include counselling, group support, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, pilates and massage therapies.


When combined with medication, detox programmes, group therapy and the 12-step programme the chances of success may become even higher. Holistic therapies aren’t designed to replace evidence-based treatments, but rather to complement and enhance them.


 Why is it important to treat each person individually?


There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ treatment. Every individual facing addiction has their own unique history, circumstances, causes, symptoms and triggers – and as such, their road to recovery will be equally unique to them.


The holistic approach is specifically designed to treat each individual according to their unique experiences and responses to treatment. Some individuals thrive on group talking therapy, whereas facing large groups could overwhelm others. Equally, some individuals prefer a medical approach to their treatment whereas others find huge emotional and spiritual benefits to therapies such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.


The benefit to the holistic approach is that the recovery path is catered for each individual.


How does it treat the root cause of addiction?


Most medical treatments of addiction are designed to mimic the physiological effects of addiction so that the individual receives relief from withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings. They are often accompanied with the prescription of medication to reduce anxiety and increase the amounts of serotonin and dopamine in the brain to alleviate feelings of depression.


Although these treatments are often highly effective in treating the symptoms, alone they cannot tackle the causes of an individual’s addiction nor address an individual’s triggers.


The holistic approach addresses all aspects of an individual, including their emotional and psychological state. In reality, there are a whole host of factors that can affect addiction, and these can include an individual’s state of mind, their current environment and social support and a history of abuse. Furthermore, both genetics and upbringing can make some individuals more prone to addictive behaviours.


The use of talking therapy and group work can allow an individual to explore the root of their addiction and allows them to become aware of their triggers so that they can work through any emotional healing and be proactive in their own long-term recovery.



Is using holistic treatments for addiction controversial?


In a word, yes. Many medical practitioners hold reservation on the effectiveness of many holistic treatments or complementary therapies because of the little evidence currently available on the effectiveness of the treatment of addiction. However, with this in mind, it is only fairly recently that these kinds of treatments have been used in conjunction with addiction so some would argue that there has been little opportunity for any long-term scientific studies.


However, the use of evidence-based psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioural therapy has been shown to be effective in addition to receiving medication-based treatments.


Westley Clark, the director of the Centre for Substance Abuse Treatment of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has been quoted as stating that, “SAMHSA endorses the use of evidence-based practices in substance abuse treatment—treatments scientifically shown to be effective. Many evidenced-based programs which take a holistic approach to treatment may incorporate aspects of alternative or spiritual healing. These approaches may also be helpful so long as they are used as adjuncts to evidenced-based practices.”

The holistic approach aims to combine both medical and non-medical treatments to provide the individual with a greater choice in how they approach their own recovery.

A key argument in the holistic therapy debate in that individuals should be informed as to which therapies are science or evidence-based and which are not. Furthermore, it is extremely important for an individual to have the right to request the credentials or qualification of their holistic therapist to ensure that their provider is fully trained.

In Conclusion

Treatments for addiction should always be taken seriously, by both medical professionals and holistic therapists. In the treatment of addiction, each individual will have their own unique journey towards recovery and some of these individuals may prefer a strictly medically-based recovery plan.

However, as complementary or alternative treatments become more widely known and accepted, some individuals feel a great benefit from addressing the emotional, mental and even spiritual contributors towards their addiction.

The holistic approach aims to combine the best from medical treatments, psychological therapy and complementary therapies in order to provide the individual with the greatest opportunity to recover from their addiction long term, and to reduce the risks of relapse.

One cannot argue that a benefit of the holistic approach is that the individual seeking help with addiction will have a greater support network as part of their recovery. Additionally, it can provide an individual with a wide range of day-to-day coping strategies alongside the use of medication.

Ultimately, the decision should lay with the individual seeking treatment as they have right to choose what treatment plan will work best for them and provide them the tools for a successful recovery.




Victoria Sumner

Nicholas Conn / 12th May 2018/ Posted in: Latest News

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Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazapam (vailium)

Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Nalmefene
  • Acamprosate (campral)

Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

*based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

Local treatment

Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

Treatment Away

Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.