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Five Effective Alternative Therapies for Treating Addiction



There is no denying that addiction is one disease that can be very complex to recover from. Addiction has so many layers to it that recovering is not always as simple as 1-2-3. Just as everyone who suffers from addiction is unique, so is their road to recovery. While solutions such as rehab facilities, individual/group counseling, and support groups can be effective, many medical professionals have introduced the idea of alternative therapies that can be essential tools in recovery.

Below are five types of alternative therapies one might consider when suffering from addiction.

  1. Pet Therapy

Frequently used as an additional form of addiction treatment, pet therapy is successful in that it helps recovering addicts to care for someone besides themselves. Supporters of this form of therapy believe that by allowing recovering addicts to care for a pet that is dependent upon them, participants are able to discover the more caring side of themselves. In doing this, this therapy helps participants to get a better understanding of what nurturing means. points out that there are several health benefits to having or spending time with a pet. Some of the benefits include decreased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Having a pet can also heighten the self esteem of a recovering addict who feels less than satisfied with themselves.

  1. Horticulture Therapy

Gardening, often referred to as horticulture therapy has been introduced in various settings including prison systems, mental health programs, hospitals (psychiatric), and addiction recovery facilities. Much like pet therapy, horticulture therapy gives the recovering addict a sense of purpose. It is believed that gardening can have a significant impact in healing/treating an array of problems that many recovering addicts face. Some of these issues include low self esteem, anxiety, depression, aggression (anger), and low cortisol levels (a hormone in the brain that regulates stress).

  1. Sound Therapy

Recovering addicts looking for a more holistic approach might find sound therapy to be very intriguing. Not to be confused with music therapy, sound therapy is simply the vibration from various sounds used to help heal the participant. Ideally, the types of sounds that are used will be similar to instrumentals. It might include instruments like drums, tuning forks, and singing bowls. The sole purpose of this form of therapy is to help the mind to have a heightened sense of peace and relaxation as it heals.

  1. Art Therapy

Another alternative therapy to consider is art therapy. Like pet and horticulture therapies, art therapy gives the participant something else to focus their attention on. This therapy type is good for building self esteem and confidence. While participants may not turn out to be the next Picasso, it does help them to learn to value themselves and their ability to express their feelings through art.

  1. Meditation

Meditation is the practice of becoming more aware of one’s self. Substance abusers who are able to gain mindfulness are a lot more aware of who they are as individuals. They have a better understanding of what they’re thinking and feeling as they learn to change their behaviors against acting on negative thoughts. Many therapists and counselors would agree that meditation is a great solution for preventing relapse. Meditating is also beneficial in other ways. Such processes have been known to help lower stress levels, regulate mood, increase the immune system, and also aids the body in detoxifying harmful chemicals.

Choosing a Therapy That’s Best for You

These are some of the more popular types of alternative therapies for drug or alcohol addiction. Choosing the therapy that is right for you will greatly depend upon your personal preferences. For example, someone who is not a pet lover probably wouldn’t benefit from pet therapy. If you’re currently in a rehab program for help with your addiction, talking with them about the various therapies they have to offer is ideal. If you’re not currently seeking treatment, researching holistic rehab facilities is best. Once you’ve found a few programs that you’re interested in, you can contact them to learn more about the programs and how they might best benefit you.

Each of the above described therapies has their advantages to aiding in the recovery process. However, what must be understood is that these therapies are often used in conjunction with other treatment options to provide the best possible experience. If you believe you could benefit from any of the above mentioned therapies, be sure to reach out to a rehab program offering such therapies or your primary care physician for more information and advice.

For more information on alternative therapies, consider these sources below:

Axis Recovery on Sound Therapy, 2015. on Art Therapy

Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, PhD, The Health Benefits of Dogs (and Cats)., March 2015.