What Is Holistic Addiction Treatment?

As America has struggled with addiction over the past several decades, addiction treatment has been undergoing an evolution of sorts. The term holistic may seem a bit overused these days, but holistic addiction treatment is more than just a buzzword. 

In this article, Cottonwood Tucson Explores what makes holistic addiction treatment different from traditional treatment for substance abuse.

What Holistic Addiction Treatment Offers

The term holistic refers to an approach or philosophy that considers the whole entity, rather than focusing on individual parts. A holistic approach to addiction treatment emphasizes the connections and interactions between all facets of the person.

We are more than simply the sum of our parts. Holistic addiction treatment doesn’t focus merely on symptoms or substance abuse. Rather it sees addiction as a response to other conditions. Addiction doesn’t develop in a vacuum; holistic treatment approaches consider all aspects of an individual’s life. Addiction also isn’t a function of poor willpower or a lack of self-control. More often than not, it is an attempt to cope with pain or disharmony.

Holistic addiction treatment focuses on the whole person. This includes the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects. True holistic recovery methods accomplish what cannot be achieved by just focusing on specific symptoms or illnesses. The goal of a holistic approach to mental health or addiction is to achieve overall balance and wellness by treating the whole person. 

What holistic addiction treatment offers is nothing less than a path to deeper healing and sustainable recovery

Critiquing the Conventional Rehab Approach

For many decades, substance use disorders were treated with an emphasis on addressing symptoms alone. The medical detox phase of “weaning” a person off of a substance safely and comfortably was the main focus of addiction treatment. Once a patient was past their physical dependence, they might receive a bit of counseling and perhaps be introduced to group therapy and 12-step meetings.  

While some patients might find support for their psychological needs in counseling and spiritual support from 12-step groups, the conventional approach to addiction treatment leaves them up to their own devices. Millions of people go to AA or NA meetings every year and don’t reap benefits from them simply because they either don’t know how to use these tools to maximum effect or because they simply aren’t the right fit for them. 

How Does Holistic Treatment Differ From Conventional Rehab?

The biggest difference with holistic addiction treatment is that physical, mental, and spiritual needs aren’t seen as separate and distinct. The holistic approach to recovery recognizes that all of these facets of the human experience constantly affect one another. A person isn’t just a body. You are not just your mind either; holistic treatment approaches emphasize treating the whole person. The body, mind, and spirit together constitute the “self”.

What does this mean for addiction treatment? It means that if we fail to provide effective care in any one of those three arenas (physical, mental, spiritual), it affects all of the others. Can anyone say that their mental health does not affect their physical well-being or spiritual health? Who among us would say their physical health doesn’t influence their state of mind or spiritual well-being? Would anyone argue that spiritual conflict has no bearing on the body or mind? 

The Role of Spirituality in Addiction Recovery

Some people recoil a bit at the mention of spirituality, especially in the setting of an addiction treatment center. It may hold negative connotations for them due to past experiences with organized religion. Others may not have any personal experience with religion, but are more literal and science-minded and see spirituality as impractical or fanciful.

We respectfully submit that both of these points of view come from a place of misunderstanding. The truth is that spirituality and religion are two entirely different things. Organized religion may be divorced from spirituality and spirituality exists outside of religion. None of the world’s major belief systems has a monopoly on the soul.  

The fact is that spirituality is practical. We ignore the needs of the soul at our peril. Simply because the soul is difficult to quantify, measure, or analyze doesn’t mean it does not exist or should be disregarded. Discussions of the nature of the soul are too esoteric for a brief article like this — but it isn’t necessary to have a precise understanding of spirituality to benefit from it in the context of a recovery center.  

Enriching your spiritual life doesn’t require a wholesale change in your beliefs or some profound “white light” moment. It doesn’t mean forgoing logic or adopting beliefs you aren’t comfortable with. It simply requires an open mind, willingness, and just enough courage to risk a little optimism. 

What Happens in a Holistic Addiction Treatment Program?

The holistic model of substance use disorder treatment does not leave medical science behind. It’s very much the opposite of traditional treatment methods that focus strictly on the physical aspects of addiction. The holistic approach to substance abuse treatment is evidence-based and proven clinically effective in fact. 

Holistic addiction treatment thoroughly integrates therapeutic modalities that support the mind, body, and spirit. Put simply, it services all three of these areas of human need while paying particular attention to how they influence each other. 

Holistic Addiction Treatment Program Structure 

Substance abuse treatment in a holistic program like Cottonwood Tuscon typically begins with a medical detox phase where the focus is primarily on the physical body. Restoring health and balance in the body first is necessary for safety and comfort. 

From there, the structure is similar to a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program with a conventional model. The difference is that treatment plans are personalized for the individual and include specialized therapeutic modalities. 

Holistic addiction treatment includes:

  • Safe, comfortable medical detox (as needed)
  • Comprehensive mental health assessment
  • Personalized treatment planning
  • Individual psychotherapy sessions
  • Group therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Aftercare planning

Holistic Addiction Treatment is Highly Individualized 

Holistic addiction treatment is designed to address all three facets (mind, body, spirit) with consideration for the interplay between them. For example, a dual-diagnosis client who has an alcohol use disorder and a trauma condition, such as PTSD has a specific set of needs on each of the planes. 

A holistic treatment plan for this client would look different than the treatment strategy for a person with a primary mental health diagnosis of major depressive disorder complicated by polysubstance abuse. Treatment plans at Cottonwood Tucson also evolve with our clients as they progress, achieve goals, and pass milestones

Holistic Addiction Therapies

One of the many attributes that make Cottonwood Tuscon truly exemplary is our integration of cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment modalities. We believe the set of therapeutic tools we use must reflect the diversity of our client’s needs. Put simply, people are different and their needs vary. 

A one-size-fits-all approach to mental health and addiction treatment will not do. The ideal treatment approach for a person may not immediately reveal itself. Many people do not respond to the usual and conventional model of addiction care. Addressing the needs of mind, body, and spirit also calls for a broad range of techniques. 

Just a few of the specialized treatment modalities we use at Cottonwood Tucson include:

  • NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM)
  • Wim Hof Breathing Method
  • Trac9 Recovery Program
  • Equine Assisted Therapy
  • Organic Intelligence (OI)
  • Expressive Arts Groups
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Mind-Body Therapy

Holistic Addiction Treatment in Arizona

Cottonwood Tucson’s private residential treatment program is situated on 35 picturesque acres in the foothills of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Our holistic mental health and substance use disorder treatment program is nationally recognized as one of the very best in the U.S. 

The reason why is simple. Ever since we opened our doors 25 years ago, we have diligently pursued excellence at every turn. We think there is no higher calling than helping people restore health and harmony to their lives. To that end, we continuously develop and improve our program and remain on the cutting edge of mental health treatment innovation. 

If you or a person you love could benefit from mental health treatment or addiction care, we’re here to help. You and your loved ones deserve the type of expert, innovative care that only Cottonwood Tucson can deliver. Let’s begin a conversation about how we can help, today. Call us anytime at (888)-433-1069

Related Posts

Call for more information and daily rates:

(888) 727-0441


CARF - Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities NATSAP | National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs NAADAC newsweek