Complementary Therapies: Proven to Give Addiction Treatment a Kick-Start
Individuals seeking treatment for addiction are often dissatisfied with conventional addiction treatment because it has been ineffective, has produced adverse effects, or is seen as impersonal. “Alternative” addiction treatments, in this case evidence-based, whole health, complementary therapies, are gaining in popularity and acceptance as useful tools in addiction treatment.
The majority of whole-health practitioners are using these methods to treat their clients largely because they find these health care alternatives to be more congruent with their own values, beliefs, and philosophical orientations toward health and life. They also have a great deal of research behind them showing their efficacy in helping individuals recover from addiction.
There are psychological therapies that have been shown to be effective in treating addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapies are one type of therapy that has shown success in helping people change habits and behaviors. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a recently developed form of cognitive behavioral therapy. A short time ago, eight studies were reviewed that dealt with drug problems or mixed substance problems. The majority of studies reported very positive results for ACT following treatment and at follow-up.
Mindfulness can help substance abusers to accept physical sensations that might be confused with withdrawal symptoms, and not act impulsively on them. Mindfulness reduces an individual’s susceptibility to act in response to a specific drug cue or “trigger.” Practice of mindfulness may help a person develop the ability to maintain perspective in response to strong emotional states and mood fluctuations. To be most effective, it requires ongoing practice and is great for highly motivated individuals. The first clinical studies testing mindfulness interventions in substance use disorders have shown promising results.
Other treatments include acupuncture, hypnosis, and biofeedback. All are all being used to treat addiction in conjunction with intensive psychotherapy. These therapies work with psychotherapy to help activate various centers in the brain, helping to change the way it functions and allow recovery to take hold.
The evidence supports the use of alternative medical treatments for addiction, hand in hand with intensive psychotherapy. Individuals respond to therapies differently and some will work better than others, which is why it is important to work with professionals who are experienced in their application.