Holistic treatment attempts to address a client’s needs in an overall fashion. This involves interconnecting all important components of an individual as opposed to treating only the disease.
Holistic treatment attempts to address the person in terms of their physical aspect (their body), spiritual aspect, and cognitive aspects (the mind, including intellect and emotions).
Holistic rehabs focus on interventions that are most often referred to as complementary or alternative types of treatment.
These treatments may not consist of formal medical practices, psychotherapy practices, or other standardized practices associated with the treatment of substance abuse. Instead, they may incorporate elements of philosophy and even religion into the treatment regime.
There are many different types of holistic interventions.
The main issue with many of these treatments for substance use disorders is that they lack empirical evidence (research-based evidence) to support their use, especially use as mainstream or a first-line approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.
It is important to understand that research studies do not suggest that holistic interventions like yoga or nutritional therapy have no benefit, but the research indicates that their effectiveness to alter issues with addictive behaviors is not consistent with the notions of effective treatment.
They may have general benefits that can complement substance use disorder treatment, but these interventions themselves are not sufficient as the main methods of intervention for substance abuse.
Many of these treatments are described as complementary or alternative interventions, indicating that they are not designed to be first-line approaches to treatment. Instead, they are designed to be used in addition to standard approaches to treating substance use disorders. Thus, attending a completely holistically oriented rehab program may shortchange an individual in terms of their potential recovery.
These programs are often surprisingly expensive, and insurance companies generally do not cover the costs of their interventions. For instance, acupuncture treatment for substance abuse is rarely, if ever, covered by insurance companies. It will often be very difficult to get coverage for other forms of holistic therapies, resulting in a rather large financial obligation for interventions that lack research evidence for their effectiveness.
Any facility can claim to provide holistic treatment interventions even if it provides no holistic treatments at all.
It is important to investigate the types of interventions a rehab facility utilizes. Ensure the facility provides a combination of holistic interventions and empirically based treatment interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and medically assisted treatments.
Again, when an intervention is listed as being empirically validated or has empirical evidence to support its use, it means that the intervention has sufficient research evidence to suggest that it can be effective in addressing a particular disease, disorder, or situation. However, just because an intervention is an empirically validated intervention does not guarantee that the intervention will provide the type of results a person is seeking.
Empirically based treatments offer the best possible hope and conditions to allow an individual with a certain condition or disorder to address their problem. Because these treatments have the most solid form of support for their use, they are the preferred approaches to addressing the specific condition in question.
Even if many of the holistic treatment interventions lack empirical evidence for their use in the treatment of substance use disorders, this does not mean that they do not provide benefits or will not result in improvement for some people.
For instance, many non-empirically validated treatments may produce benefits through placebo effects, which are non-specific effects that occur as a result of of intervention. Placebo effects most often occur for conditions or situations that are highly subjective, such as the experience of pain, issues with anxiety or mood, and other subjective qualities like increasing self-confidence.
Many of the interventions used in holistic rehab programs, like yoga, meditation, and other techniques, do have empirically documented health benefits that can help to increase an individual’s overall sense of well-being.
A holistic rehab program that is not consistent with the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s outline of effective substance use disorder treatment should be avoided.
The best program will combine the use of medical treatments (medications), substance use disorder therapy (group and individual sessions), and holistic interventions, so it is balanced and practical.
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