Holistic Therapies for Addiction: Do They Really Work?
Here at Hawaiian Island Recovery, we talk a lot about the holistic therapies we offer. From wild dolphin assisted therapy to music therapy, we are proud to provide unique opportunities for our residents to get out of the counselor’s office and fully experience the world around them as they pursue healing and sobriety.
When people first learn about our availability of holistic therapies for treating addiction, they can display a wide range of reactions. Some people distrust mainstream therapies and are eager to embrace an alternative. Others think, “Oh, that sounds fun! But does it actually work?” Still others may suspect that these are “quack therapies” with no foundations in science.
No matter where you fall on that spectrum, the question of “Do holistic therapies really help cure addiction?” is a fair one and one worth addressing.
Holistic vs. Evidence-Based Therapies
While there is a wide range of therapies available to drug and alcohol addicts, many of them fall into one of two categories: holistic or evidence-based therapy.
Holistic therapies have the unique goal of healing a person’s entire being—body, mind, and soul—rather than focusing purely on physical health. Popular examples include animal assisted therapy and massage. There are very few peer-reviewed studies on these methods, so much of the evidence for their success is anecdotal.
Evidence-based therapies, on the other hand, are backed by scientific studies, usually complete with randomized samples and results that are published in peer-reviewed journals. Popular examples include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and EMDR.
Anecdotal Evidence of Holistic Therapy Success
Because holistic therapies have undergone little to no scientific testing—and many of the tests have inconclusive results—men and women considering rehab programs with holistic therapies often turn to friends, acquaintances, and other recovering addicts to hear about their experiences.
Here at HIR, we like to share testimonials on our website so that potential residents (like you or your loved one) can hear from others who have already walked this path.
For example, our graduate Marina shares, “I learned patience and acceptance. I became more open minded and social. I began waking up at 6am and falling asleep by 11pm—naturally! I have strengthened my relationship with God. I formed lifelong friendships and gained sources of support. I feel energized throughout the day. I am able to deal with stressful situations but, most of all, I am happy! And for that, I am incredibly grateful.”
The results she’s enjoyed—such as patience, acceptance, and renewed spirituality—aren’t easy to measure and track in a scientific study. Rather, they are intangible qualities that she’s experienced as a result of pursuing total (or holistic) health of her body, soul, and mind.
Charlie, another HIR graduate, shares, “One of the most beneficial therapies happened off-site, out of the office. We had the opportunity to do therapeutic work in nature. For me, being in nature allowed me to heal without the stigma of an office setting.”
While evidence-based therapies and one-on-one sessions with therapists are important, some residents, like Charlie, find it easier to process and heal outside of what he calls the “stigma” of an office setting. They may feel less pressure to feel a certain way or say a certain thing, therefore opening themselves up to a therapeutic and monumental moment in their healing.
Finally, HIR graduate Katarina shares, “We all have bad days, ones where we feel alone or afraid, but here at Hawaiian Island Recovery, we are never alone and we can face our fears. I have overcome my fear of socialization, even the fear of loneliness. HIR has allowed me to not be so nervous [and] afraid; it also gave me skills, such as public speaking, giving me positive energy, and adding more structure in my life to make me feel like I’m not abusing this perfect life that was given to me all along.”
Though sobriety is the number one goal for our residents, you’ll notice that it isn’t the one Katarina is excited to talk about at the end of her time in rehab. Instead, she happily shares the strides she’s taken socially, mentally, and emotionally—areas that she was invited to grow in during her holistic therapies.
Combining Holistic and Evidence-Based Therapies
It’s important to note that this doesn’t have to be—and should not be—an “either/or” decision. Although our residents enjoy getting out of the office for some of our holistic therapies, the results they report come from combining these experiences with the proven methods of evidence-based therapies.
We believe that the combination of holistic and evidence-based therapies is a powerful one, designed to address and bring healing to every facet of addiction. The practical skills learned in a traditional therapy session are reinforced and put to practice during holistic therapies—and even recreational activities, such as hikes and swims!
Holistic Therapy in Hawaii
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Hawaii is the perfect place to escape from the pressures of daily life and experience the benefits of both holistic and evidence-based therapies.