Holistic Therapies Aid in Addiction Recovery

Drug rehab treatment has come a long way since the early days of confrontation and blame. Now recognized as a disease that affects mind, body and spirit, some of the best drug rehab facilities have incorporated therapies that promote wellness in each of these areas.

In addition to 12-Step support groups, addiction counseling and educational workshops, people in drug rehab may now find themselves in a relaxing yoga pose or in a quiet room getting acupuncture as part of their treatment.

Acupuncture for Drug Detox

Part of an ancient Eastern tradition designed to return balance to the body, acupuncture is becoming a more widely used and accepted form of addiction treatment, particularly during drug detox.

During drug detox, the acupuncturist focuses on five specific points on the outer ear. The primary goal of acupuncture is to treat blockages, deficiencies and stagnations that disrupt the free flow of Qi (energy) in the body.

Research shows that acupuncture can influence the areas of the brain responsible for reward and pleasure. In a number of studies conducted in the past 10-15 years, addicts receiving acupuncture were more likely to successfully complete detox, remain in drug rehab treatment and avoid relapse.

This research, combined with the anecdotal evidence provided by addicts in drug rehab, suggests that acupuncture may be an effective way to:

  • Ease withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings during drug detox
  • Resolve nutritional deficiencies by stimulating the digestive and endocrine systems
  • Stimulate the body’s natural endorphins and other brain chemicals to help relieve depression and other issues that commonly result from addiction

Yoga to Treat Addiction

Yoga helps to heal the damage of addiction by unifying the body, mind and spirit. The breathing and postures of yoga require addicts to listen to their body’s cues and stay in the present moment. Rather than turning to drugs or alcohol, yoga provides a safe and natural form of stress relief.

The benefits of yoga include:

  • Increased strength, flexibility, coordination and stamina
  • Improved circulation
  • Respect for the body
  • Impulse control through slow, controlled postures and stretches
  • Stress relief by stimulating the production of endorphins
  • Healthy way to cope with drug cravings and relapse triggers

Amino Acid Therapy

Most people suffering from addiction are depleted in many vital nutrients as a result of extended periods of drug abuse. Amino acid therapy helps increase the body’s production of natural endorphins and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), such as serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine. Deficiencies in these chemicals have been associated with addiction, depression, insomnia, ADHD, anxiety, memory loss, chronic pain and weight gain.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which aid in building muscle and brain tissue and are essential components of a healthy diet. While some amino acids are available in food, others often require dietary supplementation.

Because every individual has unique neurotransmitter profiles and imbalances, amino acid therapy requires personalized recommendations based on the patient’s drug history and treatment goals. This form of therapy is often integrated with herbal supplements, nutrition therapy and other therapies.

While medications can be helpful – and in some cases necessary – to treat the effects of addiction, amino acid therapy may diminish the need for these drugs. Amino acid therapy seeks to replenish brain chemicals with virtually no reported side effects and no reported cases of overdose.

Holistic Drug Rehab

Acupuncture, yoga and amino acid therapy are a safe and effective part of holistic drug rehab. All of these and other alternative therapies, as well as counseling, medication, 12-Step support and the full spectrum of traditional addiction treatments, are offered at The Camp Recovery Center in northern California.

In addition to other therapies, The Camp offers natural remedies for the various aches and pains common in early addiction recovery. For example, clients may try lavender oil to aid with insomnia or a topical menthol patch to soothe minor aches and pains rather than taking medication.

"We are moving away from the concept of taking a drug to change the way you feel, whether it is an illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drug," said Amy Solomon, M.D., the medical director at The Camp’s drug rehabilitation center. "Our clients are really receptive to these safe, natural and non-habit-forming alternatives."

For many people in early recovery, yoga, acupuncture and other alternative therapies are options they wouldn’t have considered prior to drug rehab. But once they give it a try, they are often interested in making holistic treatments a regular part of their life – not only to help them stay sober but for overall health and wellness.