Alternative Treatment Methods for Substance Abuse

By Mary Wilson
Just as no two people are exactly the same, no two addictions will follow the exact same course. While many people are able to overcome addiction and live a healthy, sober life, some people may struggle to find their way back. If conventional treatment has not worked for you, it may be time to think outside the box and consider incorporating alternative therapies into your regimen.
The Basics
Stage one of any approach dealing with addiction is usually detox and managed withdrawal. Afterward, you are referred for more extensive assessment and may be placed in a behavior modification program or given counseling to help deal with the roods of your addiction. These may be out-patient, or require long term hospitalization. Alternative therapies are becoming more mainstream in these treatment plans.
Nutritional Therapy
Addiction damages the body’s overall physical health, so a good treatment plan includes focusing on feeding the body back to wellness. Macro and micro nutritional deficiencies contribute to depression, anxiety and emotional instability. Addressing these can help you withstand the rigors of sober life. Nutritional therapy is a holistic approach to healing the whole person and teaches more healthful lifestyle habits.
Exercise for Recovery
The data on the benefits of regular exercise indicates it offers real, tangible help for those struggling with addictions. Exercise strengthens the body by building strong muscles and bones and pays dividends for mental health and emotional wellness. People who workout are less likely to relapse and experience lowered stress response and greater sense of well-being.
Rat studies indicate that regular physical exercise decreases substance cravings and can help heal the damage that substance abuse causes in the brain, by helping it return to the pre-addiction state. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers and mood elevators, producing a healthy, natural high.
Retrain Your Brain
Neurofeedback helps you control your emotional state even in stressful situations. Studies suggest it inhibits relapse and improves sleeping patterns. It can help you think clearly, maintain focus and lower impulsivity. Neurofeedback is a noninvasive, non pharmacological therapy, and can produce results within a few sessions.
Regulate Your Mood with Mindfulness
Meditation and programs including yoga and tai chi lower stress hormones in the bloodstream and improve immune response, even helping you to build new neural connections in the brain. It can help regulation anxiety and stress, creating feelings of optimism.
No Easy Answers
Beware of quick fixes or gimmicks. Substance abuse is a complex disorder and recovering from addiction is a lengthy process that requires you to learn new life skills and coping mechanisms. You need to understand what drove you to use in the first place. Research any treatment center fully before you commit money and time. Changes in insurance coverage has led to an increase in fly by night treatment centers. Alternative and supplemental strategies for fighting addiction can be a useful tool in your arsenal as you return to better health. The most important component of your treatment is the commitment to a new way of life. It isn’t going to be easy. You need to address the problems in your life in order to get well.