Addiction is one of the most common, yet under-recognized, chronic diseases ravaging the United States. More than 21 million people suffer from addiction –— and many do so silently. Of this number, 2.6 million people are dependent on both alcohol and drugs.
Addiction statistics in the US are sobering:
- Not counting tobacco, more than 20 million Americans age of 12 or older suffer from an addiction.
- Each day more than 100 people die from a drug overdose. This rate is 3 times higher than it was 20 years ago.
- In 2011, more than 5 million visits to the emergency department were related to drugs.
- That same year, 9.4 million people admitted to driving under the influence.
- Nearly 6.8 million people with an addiction suffer from a co-occurring mental disorder.
- People between the ages of 18 and 25 have the highest rates of illicit drug use.
- 9 out of every 10 people with a substance abuse issue started drinking, smoking or using drugs before they reached their 18th birthday.
Data collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show that in 2008 more than 1.8 million individuals older than age 12 entered a treatment facility that reports to State administrative systems for substance abuse issues. The majority of these treatments (41.4%) were for issues relating to alcohol abuse, while 20% and 17% of visits were related to heroin/opioids and marijuana respectively.
Survey data from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services reveal that 1 in every 10 adults in the US consider themselves to be in recovery from either alcohol or drug abuse issues. In the same survey, more than 23 million Americans self reported that they are working to overcome some level of involvement with drugs or alcohol that they once classified as problematic.
“This new learning provides a big reason — more than 23 million reasons — for all those who are struggling with their own, or a loved one’s substance use disorder, to have hope and know that they are not alone,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, in a press release. “These findings serve as a reminder that addiction is a treatable disease and recovery can be a reality.”
As is true with other chronic disease like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, treatment is generally not a cure. Individual people have individual needs, and as such, no two recovery strategies can have the same level of success for every person. There is no cookie cutter solution. It is important that you and your loved ones know that, when it comes to your recovery and therapy for addiction, you have many options.
Holistic therapy operates on the idea that non-medicinal therapies can help to enhance traditional addiction treatment regimens. Such programs feature individualized methods based entirely on your needs and wants during recovery. Regardless of activity, the goals of holistic therapy are generally the same. These objectives include
- Figuring out any underlying factors that may have influenced the onset of addiction in the first place
- Fortify resistance to cravings
- Encouraging physical fitness and wellness
- Boosting self-confidence
- Limiting the general appeal of drugs and alcohol
Common holistic therapies include:
- Acupuncture — Acupuncture helps to reduce cravings and associated anxiety by stimulating the nervous system to reduce the “fight or flight” response that can lead to relapse.
- Massage Therapy — Massage helps to combat addiction because it triggers the release of dopamine and endorphins, often referred to as happiness hormones. The feeling of massage can thus suppress cravings.
- Regular Exercise — Exercising every day helps to build a life routine, strengthen the body and lower stress levels.
- Tai Chi — Tai chi is a gentle form of martial arts known for its stress-relieving effects, as well as promoting spirituality and mindfulness.
- Proper Nutrition — Treating your body well with proper nutrition helps to promote overall health improvements.
Holistic therapy is most appropriate for people that need something beyond traditional talk therapy to get to the root of their issues.
Developing and maintaining a strong support system is arguably one of the most important ingredients for a long-term recovery. For that support network, helping a loved one move forward can be painful, exhausting and complicated. Much of that is because the strain of addiction has likely worn them down over time. If that is the case, family addiction therapy is essential for repair.
Many people are disappointed with the behavior of a loved one suffering from addiction, and it’s not out of the ordinary for them to be skeptical when that person finally decides to seek help. Family-inclusive counseling helps all parties involved talk through issues and grudges, identify the root of the problem and if possible, work out a plan to move forward and salvage relationships. Licensed therapists know that just showing up to this kind of therapy isn’t enough to yield results. They work to impart skills involving healthier ways to interact and communicate with one another.
Meanwhile, Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) Therapy involves educating the family and friends of a recovering addict about how to help their loved one feel better about themselves — even if they haven’t yet entered treatment. Importantly, CRAFT helps to improve the lives of the friends and family, too.
The specific skills emphasized by CRAFT therapy include:
- Identifying a loved one’s triggers that prompt them to abuse substances
- Developing positive communication and problem-solving strategies
- Understanding the importance of positive reinforcement and rewarding self-care behavior
- Identifying and implementing precautions against domestic violence
- Encouraging a loved one to seek and accept help for their substance abuse issues
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Negative thinking is a hallmark attribute of many people dealing with substance abuse issues, and CBT is different from traditional therapy in that both client and therapists actively participate in the therapy process. The National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) describes CBT as a form of psychotherapy in which an individual and therapist dive into the relationships that exist between a person’s behaviors, thoughts and overall feelings. CBT is focused and goal-oriented.
Negative thinking can trigger responses that leave you feeling:
- Depression and anxiety
- Low self-esteem
CBT can help you explore the patterns in your behavior that contribute to your self-destructive actions or negative beliefs. You and your therapist work through these patterns and identify ways to make a concerted effort to think differently. Negative thinking patterns are often integral players in problems stemming from anxiety, depression and unsurprisingly, addiction. Specifically, negative thought patterns affect people with substance abuse problems because they contribute to their overall sense of powerlessness. When you think you don’t have control over your addictive behavior, you are less likely to try to break out of those habits.
The skills you develop through this process are useful, practical and applicable to other various aspects of your life. For instance, the coping strategies you develop will prepare you to handle the inevitable stressors and difficulties you will face after addiction treatment.
You can participate in CBT through both individual and group therapy formats. Because CBT is educational in nature, you should expect to receive “homework” from your sessions to help you practice the skills you’ve learned. In all, CBT is integrated and follows the same schedule as most addiction treatment programs — timeframes of 30, 45 or 90 days depending on the severity of the addiction and substance or behavior in question.
In sum, the 5 major benefits of CBT are:
- You start expecting positive outcomes for yourself and your life.
- Your attitude and beliefs about yourself change for the better
- You develop the skills to control your own thinking.
- You start thinking more rationally.
- You start to feel more calm and relaxed.
The emotional rollercoaster of feelings that affect many people in the early stages of addiction recovery can be too much to bear. It’s generally agreed that people abuse substances as a means of coping with a larger problem. For many, leaving that substance behind creates a void, feelings of emptiness and an attitude that life is meaningless. Getting yourself on a spiritual path can help restore meaning in your life. It can bring you a natural high.
Similar to CBT, spiritual therapy promotes the idea that your emotions, fears and mindset can all be controlled. There are wide varieties of spiritual tools and practices, which means you can pick the one that fits your personality and lifestyle. In fact, if you practice true mindfulness, virtually any activity can become a spiritual one. Different types you can try include:
- Mindfulness Meditation — This involves a form of awareness that is nonjudgmental and focuses primarily on the present moment. Regular meditation can bring clarity to your life’s meaning.
- Gratitude — Gratitude essentially means that you can appreciate the positive things you have in your life, even on bad days when problems present. This is one of the most effective forms of spiritual therapy.
- “Metta Meditation” — This spiritual tool, sometimes referred to as “loving kindness meditation, involves developing the ability to forgive those who have wronged you in the past or present. Importantly, it also involves learning to forgive and love yourself despite your transgressions — past or present.
- Prayer — Prayer is perhaps one of the best-known forms of spirituality. Essentially, prayer refers to a spiritual communication that happens between yourself and whatever you deem to be a higher power.
- Creativity — Creative endeavors like music, writing or painting are not only cathartic — they are also spiritual.
- Doing Unto Others — Many people believe that helping and becoming more accountable to others makes you more likely to stay in recovery.
- Yoga — Yoga is an all natural, low-impact way of improving your oxygen flow with deep breathing and lowering cortisol — the hormone linked to depressive emotions. Beyond exercise, yoga promotes meditation and self-reflection. Both of those factors can help you develop coping skills in peace and serenity.
Spiritual therapy can help you get to a point where you feel generally content with your life despite the trials and tribulations that accompany life. This calmness can help you to avoid slipping back into your addiction as a means of coping. Even just 10 minutes each day employing the tools and techniques acquired during spiritual therapy can bring you clarity and make a world of difference in your mindset. Both of these things can greatly help you stay on the road to recovery.
Benefits of spiritual therapy, which range from physical to emotional, can include:
- Stress Reduction — Reducing stress can help you live longer and avoid certain emotional and physical ailments.
- Greater Presence of Mind — Being more mentally present can help you be a better person to the important people around you — including your family, friends, coworkers and community.
- Better Sleep — Clearing your mind can help to ward off the insomnia that often accompanies early recovery.
- Overall Physical Wellness — Meditation has been proven to reduce heart rate, pain, depression, anxiety and improve the flow of calming hormones.
You’d be hard pressed to find any health issue for which a healthy diet isn’t recommended — and addiction recovery is no exception. Substance abuse comes with a whole host of nutritional issues that you’ll need to address moving into a life of sustained sobriety. The body suffers severely during addiction and your recovery needs to integrate nutritional therapy in order to mitigate those deficits. If for no other reason, you’re going to need a lot of energy to move through recovery.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, moderate drinkers can get up to 16% of their daily allotment of calories from alcohol and not exhibit any sign of malnutrition. Meanwhile, heavy drinkers, or those whose alcohol consumption exceeds 30% of their caloric allotment, tend to substitute alcohol for the necessary carbohydrates, fats and protein needed to sustain a healthy body. Heavy consumption of alcohol greatly impairs the body’s ability to metabolize nutrients, so even when drinkers still get the recommended amounts of essential nutrients, the body faces difficulty processing them.
Opioid abusers, on the other hand, often experience severe gastrointestinal issues. During withdrawal and early recovery, you can expect to experience severe vomiting and diarrhea — both of which can lead to nutrient depletion. Those who abuse stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine normally have suppressed appetites, which unsurprisingly leads to unsatisfactory ingestion of needed calories and nutrients.
Nutritional therapy is important for recovering addicts because food is the essential building block for the energy we need. Such therapy can help you work toward fixing damaged organ tissue and rebuilding your immune system. Additionally, nutrition plays a large role in mood, as a proper diet increases production of serotonin, which promotes happiness. Dieticians can help you learn to eat well and use food to feel both physically and mentally strong.
On the opposite end of the nutrition spectrum, some recovering addicts turn to food as a replacement for alcohol or drugs. Some of these people end up becoming addicted to food — with sugar being a common offender. Substituting one vice for another is dangerous, because it means the underlying impetus for addiction has not been properly addressed.
In summary, dieticians can promote the following goals through nutrition therapy and education:
- Healing and nourishment for your body — which was damaged from alcohol or substance abuse
- Stabilizing mood and lowering stress levels
- Reduce cravings
- Identify and address comorbid medical issues that may have come about as a result of addiction and abuse
- Encourage an overall healthy lifestyle and promote self-care
Where to Find These Unique Therapy Techniques
Therapy techniques for addiction should be as unique as the individuals who need them. JourneyPure Voyage understands this notion and offers programs aimed at maximizing every moment you spend in therapy and setting you up for success. Notably, JourneyPure Voyage emphasizes unique therapies for addiction as an adjunct to traditional psychotherapy programs. The ethos of this treatment facility is that addiction treatment and recovery is a mind, body and spiritual process that calls for an all-inclusive approach.
With respect to therapy techniques for addiction, JourneyPure Voyage offers experiential therapy to help you develop the skills you need to stay completely substance-free as you move through recovery. Licensed therapists can help you identify and manage the pathways and experiences that led you to addiction in the first place. Through physical activity and movement, you will begin to build the confidence and sense of accomplishment you need to help you reach long-term recovery.
JourneyPure’s experiential therapy offerings include:
Songwriting Therapy — JourneyPure’s songwriting therapy program is one of a kind. With help from a music therapist, songwriting can be extremely cathartic and can be a vehicle for self-awareness and expression. Music therapy, in particular, the act of songwriting and creating your own music, helps to:
- Create feelings of joy
- Overcome shame
- Effectively and coherently express negative emotions
- Create space in life for positive influences
- Displace feelings of guilt and fear
Equine Therapy — The goal of equine therapy is to help you build the confidence and self-esteem needed to create new, positive connections. You benefit from the exercise stemming from physically caring for and riding the horses. An equine therapist will guide you and groups of others through learning how to deal with the horse — that can help you build connections with others and establish teamwork skills. All of these things can translate to your ability to succeed in life outside of the facility.
Music Therapy — Music therapy is particularly effective among people with dual-diagnoses. Musical therapists can help you utilize music to delve into social, emotional and cognitive skills known to be helpful n achieving long-lasting recovery. Additionally, developing new skills and hobbies in general can help you reduce stress levels and, thus, your risk of relapse.
Art Therapy — In many cases, the root cause of addiction is vulnerability. The self-expression associated with creating new art can help expand your horizons while distracting yourself from the urge to fall back into old, negative behaviors and patterns. The benefits you can expect to reap from art therapy in addiction recovery can include:
- Activities guided by a licensed therapist
- A process tailored to your specific needs
- Resolution of past hurts and trauma
- Fine-tuned self awareness and self confidence
- Lower levels of cortisol and stress
Adventure Therapy — Many times, high energy clients have a tough time sitting still and fully benefiting from traditional psychotherapy approaches. Adventure therapy can help you expend that energy while facing your fears and discovering what might have brought you to addiction in the first place. The benefits you can expect to reap from adventure therapy include:
- Developing leadership abilities
- Rebuilding trust with the world around you
- Establishing healthy relationship skills
- Improving self esteem and self confidence
- Making new friends
From the moment you arrive at the facility, our trained and knowledgeable staff begins assembling your treatment and therapy plan. Alternative therapies and activities can help you clear your mind and let your guard down. If you’re ready to try something new for yourself, or even if you’re just beginning, call JourneyPure to discuss your options and get started on a path to recovery that is personalized and as unique as you are.