It’s not uncommon for people to consider non-medicinal alternatives to treatment, even when it comes to alcohol use disorder. While some prefer to use holistic therapy in conjunction with traditional methods, others do not. Either way, the doctor and therapist should work towards the betterment of the patient.
But is it always up to the doctor? Not really: the patient in question is required to carry the majority of the load. Any progress made is dependent on his willingness to recover. And perhaps that is why you’re here: you have a loved one struggling with alcohol use disorder.
But where do you start? Perhaps this is just the beginning of helping a loved one through their journey of addiction. Or maybe it’s the messy middle fraught with one treatment failure after another, and you’re looking for alternatives. Regardless of the reason, you being here is an indication that you’re on the right track.
And like most people before you, you’re wondering the same thing: is holistic therapy treatment good for alcoholism?
Holistic Treatment Therapy
Alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder are terms that are used interchangeably.. Alcoholism develops after the user becomes addicted to alcohol, which then affects his or her behavior. The shift in behavior results from the change to the brain when the drug interacts with it. Hence, the term, Alcohol Use Disorder.
Chronic relapsing brain disease is how the National Institutes of Health defines it.
When holistic therapy is incorporated as therapy, it is meant to treat both the patient’s mental, emotional and physical well-being. Below are a few holistic therapy methods and their effectiveness in treating alcohol addiction.
Research has found that there’s a connection between what we eat and our mental health. In other words, foods encourage the release of certain neurotransmitters, affecting our mood. Certain foods can even go as far as hampering food conversion into proper nutrients that the body needs. Alcohol falls into the former category and damages the body even further by:
- Affecting the eating habits of the individual suffering from substance abuse. That is, they eat less
- Influencing poor nutritional food choices
- Impacting their ability to recover from the dependency on alcohol fully
With all the above in consideration, one can conclude a few things about the person struggling with addiction. For instance, they are likely to develop:
- Nutritional deficiencies
Nutritional deficiencies that cause feelings of anxiety and depression can lead to a relapse. Assisting patients with their diets can help prevent this. At the same time, proper nutrition will help restore their digestive system and promote further physical healing.
Exercise and Recreational Counseling
Physical activity is known to promote the release of hormones such as dopamine to improve mood. But more so, research has proved its effectiveness in treating mental disorders. From depression and anxiety to even enhancing one’s self-esteem, people should incorporate exercise into their daily activities.
However, it has also been found to alleviate symptoms related to nicotine and alcohol dependence. A particular study reported regular movement as an effective preventative method in drug and alcohol use.
At the beginning of this article, the patient’s willingness was highlighted as the key to recovery. But willingness or motivation to recover isn’t always exhibited by an individual with alcohol problems. More often than not, the pull to use and indulge is often stronger than they want to recover.
This is where motivational interviewing comes in. The counselor first gains the patient’s trust and gets him/her to talk about things they’d like to change. The behavior change is focused on the habits the patient would like to change.
Notably, this client-focused therapy is often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment. Hence, it can be considered highly effective.
At this stage, the counsellor works towards increasing the patient’s level of confidence. How? By helping them realize that:
- They can change their habits
- They are ready for change
- The transition needs to occur
The counselor never forces his/her ideas on the patient. His/her job is to elicit or evoke the little motivation that was already there.
Undergoing treatment is often a difficult journey for the individual suffering from substance abuse. But it also tends to take a toll on the family and friends of the patient in recovery.
Massage therapy works in easing the emotional, physical and mental strain caused by all of it. Massage increases the number of beta-endorphins in the body, helping improve mood. But more importantly, it helps enhance self-awareness in the patient under-recovery. Self-awareness is what helps them make the connection between certain feelings of tension and how they trigger relapses.
Anything from anger, sadness, and frustration down to boredom can be a potential trigger. Knowing this can make it easy for the person with alcohol use disorder to develop ways to manage them. Of course, there’s usually a counselor to help make this strategy-forming process a lot easier. Massage therapy also helps alleviate those triggers and promotes sleep, a side effect of alcohol addiction.
All those mentioned above alternative holistic treatments are incredibly effective in treating alcoholism. This is because of the connection between the physical state and the mental and emotional state. Complementing these methods with traditional methods can augment the recovery process.
However, you are advised to seek advice from your doctor before your decision. They have your health mapped out and know which methods can and cannot work for you.
All in all, recovery is not impossible, regardless of the long, cumbersome process. Family and friends are reminded that addiction is a mental health disorder. Quitting is not easy, and recovery does not happen overnight. Your constant support is a crucial ingredient to encouraging and aiding a fast recovery.
Also, family and friends of a person with an alcohol use disorder are advised to join support groups. Engage in massage therapy and exercise to help alleviate stress and support good well-being.