Choosing alternative treatment for addiction is more holistic than traditional models – focusing on treating the whole person, not just the addiction. This may include meditation, exercising and incorporating other healthy living practices into treatment. But how do you know if an alternative treatment is best? Start by taking a look at the benefits, and potential drawbacks, to make sure this approach will set you on the right path toward recovery.
Benefits of Alternative Treatments
Alternative Treatment is Empowering
Popular culture tends to frame going into addiction treatment as something that happens when someone hits rock bottom, which often means going unwillingly. This may be the case for some people, yet however you came to treatment, you can have an active part in your recovery moving forward. Choosing your own treatment is empowering because it allows you to find a method that fits your needs, which means you are more likely to stay committed to it and have greater success long-term. A study reported in Psychology Today found that a majority of people who chose their own treatment were more likely to stick with it.
Alternative Treatment is Flexible
The traditional, 12-step model works well for many people, but others feel like they don’t connect with the spiritual foundation of these programs. Alternative recovery programs can give you the support you need without a religious focus at all, or you may find spiritual fulfillment from practices like yoga and meditation. Yoga is a prime example of an alternative treatment strategy that can be tailored to you. Practicing yoga helps you learn mindfulness, giving you greater awareness of your mind and body. This approach is completely accessible to everyone, regardless of religious affiliation.
Another option is to combine yoga with the 12-step model to get the support and structure of the 12-steps along with the mental and physical benefits of yoga. This is just one example of how alternative treatments give you the ability to find something you connect with rather than having to fit into a box.
Alternative Treatment Gives You More Recovery Tools
Alternative treatment doesn’t have to replace traditional treatment. For many people, it simply gives you a bigger toolbox for managing recovery. You may really benefit from a traditional program, but adding in alternative treatment can give you additional strategies for preventing relapse. According to Decoded Science, learning mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) can help reduce cravings after treatment by helping you notice triggers, let go of self-judgment and gain greater control over your response.
Some approaches, such as integrating regular exercise into treatment, give you tools for replacing harmful behaviors with healthy behaviors. Creating these new healthy habits such as starting an exercise program supplements addiction treatment by caring for your physical and emotional needs. When you do this, you fill your time with activities that build up your body, rather than tearing it down, which also helps lower stress so you feel better overall and are less likely to relapse.
Drawbacks of Alternative Treatments
Using a Single Alternative Treatment Can Leave Gaps
Just as some traditional approaches to treatment leave gaps in care that alternative treatments can fill, using only a single alternative treatment may not be as effective as a combined approach. For example, acupuncture is an increasingly popular method for helping treat addiction. According to Forbes, acupuncture can help with stress management, so it is a great tool for managing long-term recovery, but studies have not shown it to have a strong effect in treating addiction. This is just one example of an alternative approach that can be a helpful tool but one you shouldn’t rely on entirely.
No matter which approach you choose, having social support is essential. Any alternative treatment that doesn’t include the support of peers, professionals or both is missing a key component for success. However, alternative treatment is often the missing link that gives you a more active role in your recovery for the best long-term results.
Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.
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