What is Holistic Approach?

The dictionary defines “holism” as the idea that “the whole is more than merely the sum of its parts.” In applying this definition to substance abuse treatment, the holistic addiction treatment approach can be viewed as treating the individual as a whole person rather than just treating the symptoms of the substance use disorder and other co-occurring disorders associated with it. Also known as “complementary treatment,” the holistic substance abuse treatment approach utilizes alternative methods outside of mainstream pharmaceutical treatment. Integrating nature-based practices with evidence-based practices, this alternative approach uses methods such as acupuncture and massage therapy.

Why Holistic Substance Abuse Treatment Works

Under the Guiding Principles of Recovery developed by the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recovery “encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit and community. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.” The idea of holistic recovery implements very practical, comprehensive ways for the individual to develop a meaningful life after treatment. Holistic substance abuse treatment is a necessary and important part of substance abuse recovery designed to help the individual reach his full potential while leading a self-directed life.

Holistic Addiction Treatment Methods

Massage and acupressure therapy are among the most widely known methods of alternative treatment, but here at New Method Wellness we also have a broad spectrum of holistic substance abuse treatments you can choose from, based on your personal interests. They include the following:

Wilderness Therapy

As the name suggests, Wilderness Therapy uses the context of nature and experiential education to improve behavioral health, particularly in adolescents who struggle with depressive mood disorders, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. Safer than what most might think, this adventure-based therapy has successfully treated alcohol and drug addiction with very low risk of physical injury, compared to high contact sports such as football. Read more…


Meditation as a holistic therapeutic technique addresses the emotional aspect of a person’s psyche. We all have natural desires for certain things in life, such as a meaningful relationship, successful career, and reward or recognition for one’s achievements. When these natural desires are wrapped in unwholesome obsessions, they can warp an individual’s perspective and produce unnecessary emotional suffering which may lead to addiction. Mindfulness, or mindful meditation, helps lower stress-related hormones as well as energize the individual through increased self-awareness and contentment. Read more…

Sand Tray Therapy

Through a natural, self-guided and self-healing process, Sand Tray Therapy allows clients to express their experiences and feelings, which increases social integration, personal growth, and development. A sand tray therapist observes a client playing with toys (miniatures, animals, archetypes, etc.) to determine the causes of drug and alcohol abuse challenges. The objects and patterns of play, as well as the willingness to interact with the therapist, can be used to understand the underlying rationale for addiction behavior both inside and outside the session. Read more…

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a fun, creative way to reduce cortisol, which is the main hormone found in the bloodstream when someone is under high levels of stress. Substance abuse addiction impairs the brain’s motivational systems, raising levels of cortisol which debilitates the individual’s perception of stressful situations. A new study at Drexel University shows that art therapy significantly reduces stress-related hormones in the body, which improves stress responsivity in persons struggling with drug addiction. Read more…

Nutritional Counseling

Nutritional Counseling, or Nutrition Therapy, has been demonstrated to drastically improve addiction recovery rates in three-month substance abuse treatment programs. Individuals with substance abuse addiction have dietary issues because they are either not eating enough or they are consuming foods that have low nutritional value. Working with a licensed nutritional counselor, an individual has a better chance at maintaining long-term recovery and improve behavioral health conditions. Read more…

Guided Imagery

A form of hypnotherapy, Guided Imagery uses visualization to improve an individual’s emotional state of being while bringing about the desired outcome in thought, behavior and coping mechanisms. Effective in reducing pain and anxiety, this alternative method integrates meditation with visualization which also helps you sleep better at night. Under the direction of a therapist, persons struggling with addiction are able to tap into their subconscious in order to make emotional connections, thereby improving self-esteem and self-efficacy. Read more…

Equine Therapy

In Equine Therapy, horses represent metaphorical experiences to stimulate emotional growth, which is vital in recovery from drug addiction. It has been proven to assist clients in developing the following skills: confidence, self-efficacy, self-concept, communication, trust, perspective, decreased isolation, self-acceptance, impulse control, social skills, boundaries, spiritual connection, and more. Each client’s interaction with the horse allows a trained therapist to observe their behavior, emotional reaction and thought patterns in order to establish healthy relationships with themselves, friends, and family. Read more…

Surf Therapy

Surf Therapy, or Ocean Therapy, is a very recent development in psychotherapy treatment widely used for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), combat stress, depression, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other life-threatening injuries. Today, addiction psychiatrists find relevant uses for Surf Therapy to treat substance abuse disorders and co-occurring disorders associated with drug addiction. As the name implies, Surf Therapy utilizes the ocean for its behavioral health benefits, such as increasing self-efficacy, alleviating insomnia, and improving cognitive concentration. Read more…


In substance abuse treatment, yoga therapy assists the body’s natural processes in rebuilding the brain chemistry and circuitry. Researchers have found a strong link between yoga exercises and stress relief because it restores hormonal balance and enlarges regions of the brain that control the body’s response to environmental stressors. Practicing yoga reduces stress and anxiety when individuals consistently use techniques for at least one and a half hours twice a week, according to Harvard Health.
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As defined in the medical dictionary, hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that “facilitates suggestion, re-education or analysis by hypnosis.” This alternative method has been used to reduce pain, relieve symptoms of fatigue and hot flashes, and produce behavior changes such as modifying addictive behaviors during substance abuse treatment. In addition to helping you make healthy choices, hypnotherapy also diminishes physical symptoms associated with addiction and aids in relapse prevention.

Solution-focused Therapy

Solution-focused therapy is a highly successful therapeutic technique, which first originated in 1970 by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. It redirects the focus from the problem to goal-oriented solutions with the assumption that all clients have a general knowledge of what will make their life better, though they may need assistance developing the details. This allows each client to dwell on the fact that they already possess the qualities necessary to implement the solution. This conversational form of therapy helps the client through positive reinforcement and discussion. Read more…

Massage Therapy

Stress is a normal part of daily life, but for those who have been traumatized by past hurts in childhood, parental abuse, domestic violence and other traumatic event triggers, their ability to handle stress is diminished and instead of resorting to healthy methods to cope, they resort to alcohol and drug addiction to numb their emotional, mental or physical pain. The strain of stress can take a toll on one’s body, such as tight muscles and deep, unrelenting aches in various parts of the body such as the back, head, and neck. Massage therapy helps the individual suffering from addiction to find alternative ways to relieve stress. Not only is massage therapy a popular form of relief, but it also strengthens the immune system and elevates one’s overall sense of well-being. Read more…

Acupuncture Therapy

Traditionally speaking, acupuncture is used as an alternative treatment method for stroke rehabilitation, joint conditions, back pain, asthma, headaches, Parkinson’s disease, depression, fibromyalgia and other types of pain; in addiction treatment, acupuncture elevates the level of the body’s natural painkillers and has been proven effective in treating drug and alcohol abuse in the United States and Europe, according to researchers at the London South Bank University. In areas of the brain damaged by drug abuse, acupuncture increases levels of serotonin and dopamine which help individuals overcome anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
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Wolf-Assisted Therapy (WAT)

The long-standing relationship between humans and wolves is recognized by Native American Indians and now finally recognized in the world of substance abuse addiction treatment. Particularly useful for veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of combat, wolf-assisted therapy utilizes trained wolves or wolf-dogs (animals that were bred between wolves and dogs) to help clients overcome co-occurring disorders associated with substance use disorders. Read more

Paddleboard Therapy

Who would have thought that Paddleboard Therapy could be a tool proven to be effective for substance abuse treatment? Also known as Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) Therapy, this adventure-based method has become increasingly popular over the years; according to a Special Report on Paddlesports by The Outdoor Foundation (2015), stand-up paddleboarding has exploded in popularity since 2010, with a marked 3 million increase from 2010 to 2014. It combines nature and yoga, where you get Read more

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