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Alternative Therapies for Addiction

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Alternative therapies for addiction can be used to supplement evidence-based treatments, promoting whole-body recovery.

Many people find that alternative therapies for alcohol addiction or drug addiction help them make positive environmental and lifestyle changes and pave the way for ongoing recovery.

Types of Alternative Therapies for Drug Addiction

Alternative therapy for addictions to drugs or alcohol are also known as holistic treatments or complementary treatments.

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings. Alternative therapies are generally used in place of conventional treatments, while complementary medicine involves the use of these holistic methods alongside established treatments. For the purposes of addiction treatment, alternative therapies are almost always used to supplement science-backed interventions like MAT (medication assisted treatment) and psychotherapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

Types of alternative therapies include:

  • Mindfulness and meditation: These practices focus on helping people become more aware of the present moment. Grounding techniques and breathing exercises can calm restless thoughts.
  • Yoga: The ancient practice of yoga provides individuals in addiction recovery with a holistic approach to wellness. Yoga can improve strength and flexibility while promoting relaxation. At the same time, yoga can naturally boost levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, lifting mood.
  • Tai chi: Tai chi is a mindful form of active that can help people manage cravings for drugs or alcohol, re-establishing a connection with the body through sweeping and fluid movements.
  • Neurofeedback and biofeedback: These forms of alternative therapies involve the use of an ECG monitor to track physiological processes like heart rate, helping promote relaxation and regulate brain waves.
  • Massage therapy: Massage therapy can provide pain relief and trigger relaxation, both beneficial during drug or alcohol withdrawal. Massage therapy may also help the lymphatic system eliminate toxins from the body during detox.
  • Equine therapy: Grooming and riding horses can improve the self-confidence of those in recovery, at the same time offering the soothing companionship of animals.
  • Music therapy: Many drug and alcohol rehabs offer various forms of music therapy that can encourage individuals in recovery to tap into the soothing, meditative qualities of music.
  • Reiki: Through gentle touch, Reiki aims to alleviate anxiety and promote whole-body healing by rebalancing energies within the body.
  • Acupuncture: The practice of acupuncture involves a trained professional inserting thin needles into certain body points, potentially helping in the management of cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Art therapy: Art therapy provides a creative outlet for people in recovery from addiction to enhance self-awareness and expression, leading to stress relief and relaxation.
  • Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy utilizes natural plant extracts like lavender and eucalyptus to bolster well-being, with essential oils used in diffusion or massage.
woman meditating representing alternative therapies for drug addiction

Art Therapy

Art therapy offers a non-verbal medium through which individuals coping with addiction can explore their emotions and cultivate self-awareness. By engaging in creative processes like painting, drawing, or sculpting, people can express complex feelings and experiences that might be challenging to articulate with words. 

This therapeutic approach supports the healing process by helping people uncover underlying issues, providing a constructive outlet for emotions, and promoting a sense of accomplishment.

Music Therapy

Music therapy utilizes the power of melody, rhythm, and harmony to facilitate healing in those dealing with addictions. It can involve active participation, like playing instruments or singing, or passive listening, providing an auditory space for reflection or emotional release. Engaging with music helps to soothe stress, improve mood, and strengthen cognitive functions.

Music therapy encourages the development of new coping mechanisms and can enhance the effectiveness of more conventional therapies by aiding in the expression of emotions and the building of a supportive community.

Other Holistic Treatment Options

Some other options for those interested in holistic treatments for addiction include:


The development of self-control and mental discipline is central to abstinence from addictive substances. For many people, substance use becomes a habitual stress-reliever over time. Meditation offers an alternative path, allowing individuals to detach from negative thought patterns. It involves finding a tranquil environment, focusing the mind, relaxing the body, and breathing deeply. This might include affirmations such as “I can lead a better life without addictive substances” or visualizing success in overcoming dependence on drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications.

Mindfulness programs

Mindfulness programs serve as an adjunct to meditation, helping those with drug or alcohol addictions become more aware of the present moment. Originating from meditative practices, these programs help people observe their thoughts, emotions, and cravings without immediately reacting to them.

Exercise and recreational therapy

Regular physical activity helps in establishing a routine, mitigating stress, and building physical strength within holistic treatment regimens. Rehabs offer activities that may include kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and hiking. Some treatment centers also offer gym access to help people cultivate healthy habits and as a positive outlet for stress.

Nutritional therapy

Effecrive recovery is underpinned by a healthy body. Many rehab programs include a nutritional component with dietary planning helping those in early recovery ensure that they get the nutrients they need.

Is Alternative Therapy Effective for Addiction?

Alternative therapies for drug addiction effectiveness is an area of ongoing study. There is suggestive evidence that holistic treatments can be beneficial when combined with traditional and proven methods, though.

Practices like yoga and meditation have many proven benefits, including stress reduction. Mindfulness, too, can be highly beneficial throughout the recovery journey.

a man celebrating which represents learning alternative therapies for addictions

Find Alternative Therapy Treatment Today

If you or a loved one needs help addressing addiction to prescription medications, alcohol, or illicit drugs, it can be overwhelming trying to find the right treatment. Shortcut your search and reach out to Drug Rehabs Centers in Southern California.

We can help you find licensed medical detox centers near you, enabling you to begin your recovery the right way. Access to medications and clinical care streamlines the drug or alcohol withdrawal process and enables you to tackle the issue of physical dependence. Detox takes about one week.

We’ll also help connect you with reputable rehabs throughout the state of California. All of the inpatient and outpatient treatment centers we recommend use a blend of evidence-based and holistic therapies to help you move beyond a life defined by addiction.

Call (844) 739-2005 for immediate assistance fighting addiction in Southern California.

Juan Bonnet
Author: Juan Bonnet


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