Alternative therapies tend to offer a more comprehensive approach dedicated to treating the whole person on mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical levels. With several options to address all those needs, you may improve your chances of recovery.
Neurofeedback and Biofeedback
Biofeedback involves connecting yourself to technology that tracks your heart rate, muscle tension, and skin conductance. You can chart your body’s reactions in real-time and learn self-regulation to make adjustments to stressors and triggers. Neurofeedback, meanwhile, uses an EEG that’s hooked to your head to monitor brain waves in real-time.
Mindful meditation, which yoga and other therapies use, teaches you to regulate your emotional balance by increasing your self-awareness. The practice, which is among many that can help you contribute positively to your recovery, encourages you to live in the moment and learn how to respond more positively to life’s stressors.
As more and more research recognizes the critical importance of exercise to addiction recovery, it’s become an integral part of many treatment programs. Just 30 minutes of exercise each day works as a mood booster, improves stability, heals physical damage resulting from addiction, and promotes a feeling of self-control and accomplishment.
Not sure which exercise to try? Join a gym and take a group class like kickboxing or yoga; find a recreational sports team, like basketball or volleyball; or stream exercise videos on YouTube.
This ancient practice, which is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, uses thin needles placed in specific pressure points on you body. It’s effective for minimizing the effects of withdrawal. Auricular acupuncture targets three to five areas near the ear that correspond to the kidneys, lungs, and liver that often suffer the most damage from drug use.
According to some studies, acupuncture reduces cravings, provides stress and anxiety relief, helps treat depression, and helps manage chronic or acute pain with fewer (if any) medication. It can also improve sleep problems, which often arise in people in addiction recovery.
For some, animal therapy is an effective supplemental treatment. Companion animals help reduce stress and blood pressure and give recovering addicts a responsibility outside of themselves. Pets restore some meaning to your life but, even better, provide no-strings-attached love, comfort, and companionship.
People who abuse drugs or alcohol often eat poorly, too, which interferes with their body’s functions. Depending on the substance, some people struggle to get their bodies the nutrition they need. Since substance abuse strains bodies, it’s important to work with a nutritionist to increase the odds of getting and staying healthy and sober. When you work with a nutritionist, you’ll learn about the best foods to incorporate into your diet, including complex carbohydrates that provide long-lasting energy and proteins and fibers that help rebuild muscles.
Healthy, balanced diets repair damage to muscles and organs, improve immune systems, increase energy, and boost moods. A nutritionist or doctor may also recommend vitamins like A, C, B-complex, and zinc, which restore deficiencies and amino acid supplements to help repair neurotransmitters.
Detox often results in sore, tense muscles for many months — and whether your body experiences mild or severe pain, massage therapy does wonders. It releases serotonin and dopamine and decreases the stress hormone cortisol. Therapeutic massage works the body’s pressure points connected to the vagus nerve and lowers heart rates and blood pressure. Massage stimulates and triggers the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which increases circulation and helps remove metabolic waste.
Creating art is therapeutic and relaxing. A therapist helps you explore the themes that appear in your art and work toward healing emotional wounds associated with your addiction.
This active therapy may be a good option if you like to be in motion and find that it’s easier to focus on self-reflection when you’re mobile. Adventure therapy includes challenging activities like hiking, rope courses, and camping.
Some experts urge caution when choosing alternative therapies. Anecdotal evidence, pilot and small studies, individual reports, and clinician observations still comprise the bulk of evidence on these therapies’ efficacy. Still, they have proven in many cases to be effective, complementary supplements to the more traditional treatments.
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- Guest Post by KIMBERLY HAYES
(Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.
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