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The Case for a Holistic Approach to Recovery

As explained in a recent post, opiate addiction is a disease—not a moral failing on the part of the addicted. Like any complex disease, a clinical approach treating symptoms or isolated causes of disease is an ineffective one. At BornFree Wellness Center, we believe that a holistic clinical approach represents the best chance for complete recovery, and we handle every patient who walks through our doors in this manner.

What is Holistic Drug Rehab?

Holistic recovery teaches patients how to care for all aspects of their health, including mind, body, and spirit. The term “holistic” often has connotations of yoga and alternative medicine practices. If these techniques are useful for an individual patient, we strongly encourage them. However, our use of the term “holistic” is a bit closer to the dictionary definition. A holistic approach to treatment considers each patient as a whole comprised of many parts, all of which need attention and guidance.

Counseling as part of a holistic approach to opiate addiction recovery

A woman receives counseling as part of her addiction recovery plan.

As the American Addiction Centers point out, any facility can choose to use the “holistic” label, regardless of the actual treatment being offered. Patients are therefore encouraged to fully research each clinic’s scope of services to identify the one which fits their needs best.

Although there is less empirical evidence for holistic approaches versus tests like controlled trials for new drugs, the United Nations has vouched for the value of traditional approaches to medicine, and a growing number of scientists are helping to codify the value of holistic treatments.

The Dimensions of Well-Being

Just like good physical health is maintained through diet, exercise, and regular wellness exams, good comprehensive health is achieved by paying attention to all components of a person’s well-being.

Physical Health

Opiates in particular are physically addictive drugs, meaning that a person becomes sick and unable to function normally during the throes of drug withdrawal. A person’s physical health is nearly always marred by addiction, and it’s usually the most obvious and outwardly-presenting dimension of addiction recovery.

Medically assisted treatments like methadone and suboxone are the most common approaches to treating the physical component of addiction.

Mental Health

For both physically and psychologically addictive drugs, a person’s mental state is heavily affected by and usually a driver of addiction.

Growing research indicates that past trauma is frequently co-morbid with addiction, and counseling to help people understand and master traumatic incidents in their past will soon be recognized as a key component in the battle against addiction.

BornFree Wellness Center is piloting a program in which patients with emotional and mental trauma receive counseling from post-secondary psychology students. These regular appointments help patients understand what makes them pre-disposed to addiction, and over time make peace with difficult memories and the lasting mental scars they carry with them.

In conjunction with MAT, mental health counseling helps patients move from passivity to an active consideration of their mental state and the triggers of addiction and relapse.

Spiritual Health

Regardless of a person’s individual spiritual beliefs, acknowledgement of and development of a relationship with a higher power is crucial to many people’s complete recovery.

Widely used programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous include deference to a higher power as non-negotiable aspects of their methods. This is not to say that one need believe in a Christian, Muslim, or Jewish God in order to beat their addiction—rather, one must acknowledge that they are not in control over every aspect of their lives, and that respect for the mysteries that govern science and our place in the world grants healthy perspective on the limits of human ability.

Recovery can only happen in a state of self-awareness and humility, and spiritual counseling and reinforcement go a long way toward bringing those states of mind about.

Spiritual heath is an important component of opiate addiction recovery.

Many people find yoga and meditation to be helpful in reclaiming their spiritual health.

Individual Case Management

Every patient is an individual. Every person has a different story, background, learning style, set of triggers, and intensity of addiction. Given these truths, the most successful game plans for recovery account for the things that make people unique and tailor clinical approaches surrounding these factors.

All of our patients are paired with a clinician to manage their case from intake through prescription and maintenance. In an initial orientation, a detailed questionnaire is reviewed by the patient and their case manager. From the initial meeting, a course of therapy is designed, including medication, regular counseling, and regular encounters with suitable spiritual leaders and other sources of guidance.

As a patient proceeds through their outlined therapies, the case manager checks in every step of the way, monitoring the patient’s progress and making adjustments as needed.

Treating Patients as People

Many of our patients have shared with us the sense of elevated comfort they feel receiving treatment at our facility versus alternatives—this is by design. People need to feel cared for and respected as an implicit concern for their mental health, rather than feeling like a number in line for a dosage.

By treating addiction as a disease and addiction patients as individuals with unique needs, addiction recovery centers can give the suffering the best chance to return to normal, productive lives surrounded by the love of their families.

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