A Holistic Approach to Treating Addiction
T’Mira Looby, MS, NCC
Primary Addiction Therapist, Crossroads Centre Antigua
You have admitted that you are powerless over your addiction, and your life has become unmanageable. So, what now? You decide to seek assistance in treating your addiction so that you may live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. But where do you start? What type of services should you look for? You search Google and find that there are many treatment options available. One option that seems most prevalent is holistic addiction treatment; but what is that exactly?
Most treatment options, whether residential or out-patient, include a combination of interventions that tend to work hand in hand; allowing you to receive holistic treatment for your addiction and achieve positive and long-term results. These may include behavioral therapies, medication-assisted treatment, experiential therapies, and alternative therapies.
Behavioral interventions are designed to help an individual identify maladaptive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors; replace them with those that are more adaptive, and positive, and aim to enhance their overall health and well-being. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, behavioral approaches help engage people in drug abuse treatment, provide incentives for them to remain abstinent, modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse, and increase their life skills to handle stressful circumstances and environmental cues that may trigger intense craving for drugs and prompt another cycle of compulsive abuse. Examples of behavioral interventions include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) which involves elements of CBT and Exposure Therapy.
Medication-assisted treatment involves using medications that help relieve withdrawal symptoms caused by addictive substances. Several approved medications are available that relieve withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings which cause chemical imbalances in the brain and body. Most medications are safe to use long-term but do not cure the disease of addiction. These medications should be administered, supervised, and managed by a medical professional for the duration of treatment.
Experiential Therapy helps individuals to identify challenging emotions through the use of expressive activities. As the individual engages in these activities, he/she may release negative emotions that may have been suppressed, silenced, or become emotionally overwhelming. By re-experiencing and exploring these emotions, the individual will more likely begin to experience positive feelings resulting in a change in perception of their reality. Examples of experiential techniques include role-playing, arts and crafts, psychodrama, and music therapy.
Alternative therapies are designed to enhance overall wellness by aligning the mind, body, and soul. With this approach, individuals can address their physical and psychological needs through engagement in activities that promote healthy development. The American Addiction Center tells us that, “…these techniques are intended to treat the whole person and improve overall well-being rather than target a single element of an individual’s symptoms and behaviors.” Examples of alternative therapies include yoga and meditation, acupuncture, massage, physical exercise, spiritual counseling, and nutritional counseling.
A holistic approach to addiction treatment should ideally aim to not only curtail isolated addictive behaviors but to adequately address a broad set of factors that play a role in the development of the addiction. At Crossroads Centre Antigua, you will receive the holistic care necessary to support you on your recovery journey. With all this in mind, it is important to remember that recovery is an ongoing process. Just think, One Day at a Time.