What the Heck Does Holistic Addiction Recovery Mean, Anyway?!

By Dominic Nicosia – October 5, 2022

It’s a buzzword that’s emerged in recent years to push everything from medicine to meditation. It’s a darling little phrase that’s been co-opted by various industries, often with little idea of its ACTUAL definition. For years, it has been on the radar of patients, providers and healthcare influencers all over the country. There’s no denying that the term “holistic” is having a moment, but what does it actually mean? More importantly for many, what does it mean for addiction recovery? Let’s talk about it!

Sound It Out: Addressing the “Whole” Holistic 

While there are some spelling differences here, the term HOListic, in the context of self-care and medicine, means taking a “whole-person” approach to healing and wellness. It means taking a mind-body-spirit approach to health and developing a routine that best suits your care needs and lifestyle. 

Holistic medicine goes beyond addressing the immediate medical needs associated with a specific condition and taking an integrative approach to total wellness. This includes your diet, fitness, wellness, community and social support, family relationships, and everything else you need to be well and thrive. 

So What Does That Look Like for Addiction Treatment?

 Here’s the thing about addiction: it doesn’t care what you have going on. Its impact may start with your physical and then bleed into your job, family, romantic relationship, mental health, financial stability and all other areas of life. Prolonged and untreated alcohol or drug abuse can, and often does, derail everything in your life. Holistic addiction treatment plays the long game. It takes a deep, personal look at what addiction has cost you and works to provide treatment and support in those areas.  

People leaning on each other.

Has your addiction led to serious medical issues? Holistic treatment provides or coordinates appropriate clinical care. Has your substance abuse put you at odds with your family? Holistic addiction treatment can work to repair that damage and offer you a solid post-treatment support system. Your job? Your life skills? Your nutrition? Your fitness? Holistic addiction treatment works to address it all either through direct intervention or informed post-treatment guidance. 

Why Is Holistic Addiction Treatment Important?

Relapse rates for alcohol and drug are between 40 to 60%. These rates often start with a lack of support in a seemingly innocuous but actually deeply consequential area, such as familial or community support or even adequate post-treatment healthcare resources. The goal of holistic recovery is not only to treat the immediate addiction but also to equip patients to continue their self-care long after their last day of treatment. This can mean a combination of things, from ensuring people have access to post-treatment therapy to just giving them a solid routine and behavioral framework through rehab and counseling. 

Why Isn’t All Addiction Treatment Holistically Focused?

The reality is that some treatment centers don’t have the resources to address the full scope of patients’ care and support needs. If you or your loved one are searching for addiction treatment, discuss your needs with the admissions representative to determine if they’re able to accommodate you. Find out what types of care they offer (inpatient, outpatient, long-term, etc.), what life is like in inpatient treatment (food, safety, quality of care, etc.), and what kind of transitional support services they have. 

 When you’re making the decision to seek care for alcohol or drug addiction, you deserve to have a fresh start and a fighting chance; holistic treatment helps to provide that. Give yourself the tools you need to thrive in recovery, no matter what you need. 


 About the Author

Dominic Nicosia smiling at the camera.

Dominic Nicosia is a New Jersey-based journalist and content writer covering addiction care and mental health. He currently serves as Senior Content Writer for Recovery Unplugged Treatment Centers, a national addiction treatment organization that offers a full continuum of care and uses music to help people more readily embrace the treatment process.


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