Sober living homes and treatment centers around the world are noticing the effects of holistic care and beginning to include them as part of the services they offer. And it’s not only the drug counseling community recognizing this; researchers too are finding recovery is supported by spirituality and other approaches that facilitate overall well being.
For instance, a recent study explored whether spirituality helps in the recovery process. The participants in the study were either marijuana dependent or had a dependence on alcohol combined with another drug. They were interviewed within the first 10 days of treatment and again upon discharge. The research tools used to measure the success of treatment and frequency of spiritual experiences include urine samples, craving symptoms for the addictive substance, mental health symptoms, overall functioning, as well as the interviews which measured the frequency of spiritual experiences and religious behavior.
The results indicated changes in spiritual experiences were correlated to better treatment outcomes. Specifically, the positive treatment outcomes included lower levels of drug occurrence, less self-centeredness, and higher frequency of positive social behavior. Furthermore, the daily spiritual experiences reported by the teens were feeling a divine presence, having a sense of inner peace, and a feeling of benevolence towards others.
For many AA participants, there’s a reason why spirituality exists in the 12-step model – a relationship with a higher being facilitates a greater sense of power within oneself versus the powerlessness that led to addiction in the first place. The 12-step model includes at its core a culture, a community, and conversations about developing a relationship a higher being, and it has longevity and high recovery rates on its side.
Now, holistic approaches don’t necessarily have to be spiritual in nature. For instance, deep breathing, nutritional eating, and exercise can be a part of a holistic sober living program. The following is a list of 20 forms of holistic approaches found in more and more sober living homes and treatment centers. This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s enough to demonstrate the types of services being offered:
Acupuncture is a system of complementary medicine that involves pricking the skin or tissues with needles, which are intended to relieve pain and/or treat various physical, mental, and emotional conditions.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils from plants and herbs, which are inhaled or applied to the skin. Aromas derived from natural plant sources have been shown to support emotional balance, stress relief, and overall well-being.
Art Therapy works with the images in your mind. At times, when the mind is inflicted by disease, these images might be self-destructive, leading to teen addiction, depression, and suicide. If, for example, you have an image of yourself that is shameful or unworthy or unlovable, it might be hard to feel deserving of what life has to offer. It might be difficult to find the energy to manage the emotional, psychological, and physical changes taking place during adolescence.
Biofeedback is a scientific way of learning about tension reduction. Instruments are used to provide immediate feedback about the level of tension in the body.
Craniosacral Therapy is a modality that uses the craniosacral system – the soft tissues and fluid that protects, nourishes, and cleanses the brain and spinal cord – as a means for assessing disease in the body. A therapist trained in this modality knows how to work with the craniosacral system to release tension in the body and improve functioning of the central nervous system. Because of its ability to release emotionally held trauma that was stored in the body, this form of therapy has been used to treat a vast number of veterans with great success. Although it’s an alternative form of therapy, it has been used to treat addiction and continues to be a widely used healing method.
The second article to this series will continue this list with such practices as yoga, massage, and spiritual exploration.
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