Holistic Drug Rehab


There’s a certain lack of clarity that comes with the term “holistic” or holistic drug rehab. In some ways it’s used like “organic” or “lo-cal” – just tacked on as a marketing tool. The word is either too-broadly applied or too narrowly. In essence, holistic just means treating the whole person in an attempt to bring them back into a balanced, healthy condition.

Arguably, all drug rehab attempts to do this, whether it happens at the most expensive resort or discount facility. After all, most rehab programs use some combination of nutritional assessment, psychological treatment, medical therapy and spiritual counseling. For this reason, “holistic drug rehab” has come to mean “outside of traditional methods.” With this in mind, holistic drug rehab will focus on nutrition, specialty exercise (like yoga), meditation and other “fringe” treatments more than modern, scientific-based medicine. Acupuncture or Reiki may be offered as well.

Beyond the surface appearance however, there is a philosophical element that holistic drug rehab brings into play. The idea is one of retreat from the toxic elements of society at large. This withdrawing from the outside stresses and concerns is an important part. The idea is that the patient’s body and mind has a certain template of wellness that can provide restoration and balance in a safe, nourishing environment.

Wellness then becomes a matter of returning balance: mental, physical and spiritual. The approach is much less combative and much more supportive. Traditional rehabilitation is experienced by some as a battle to be won against a drug, or a clear problem to be solved by adding new drugs or “fixing” a list of problems. This isn’t the case with holistic drug rehab. Rather than a “fix” it is much more about learning healthy habits and improving the whole person instead of the single problem of “drug X.”

There are arguments about holistic drug rehab in the addiction treatment community. The first is that there are no clear ideas about just what to do – each holistic drug rehab program will use different methods and a mix of options. In other words, the idea of holistic may be sound, but it lacks a practical application and clear plan of action. A second criticism is that there are single problems that do respond well to medications. For example, there is no holistic treatment that will replace a shot of Narcan for a heroin overdose. Vitamins simply won’t do. Critics even argue that patients may risk harm when they withdraw completely without the benefits of traditional medical care.

A final complaint about holistic drug rehab is that the techniques on offer are not well tested and cannot prove solid results. The nature and variety of programs does resist scientific study, but holistic practitioners point out that traditional methods aren’t very successful in any case. They also have testimonials from those who have been helped. Practitioners say the objective is different because they are helping the whole person, not just putting a Band-Aid on a current problem.

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