March 26, 2023 By Leah Malone

Holistic Healing in Recovery


There are many avenues that one can take for addiction treatment and recovery. As more interventions and treatment options have developed throughout the years, it is more recognized that traditional treatment approaches may not be adequate for sustaining sobriety. Substance use disorder (SUD) interferes with a person’s mind-body-spirit connection. To address this aspect of recovery, many treatment facilities now incorporate holistic healing into their programs to complement traditional treatments and make recovery more effective.

Holistic Healing

Individuals in treatment should not be reduced to their diagnosis or symptoms. Instead, effective treatment addresses all factors contributing to an individual’s substance abuse to ensure lasting sobriety and well-being. This requires addressing all eight dimensions of wellness, coined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). These include the following dimensions:

  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Occupational
  • Intellectual
  • Financial
  • Social
  • Environmental
  • Spiritual

Unlike traditional diagnosis-based approaches, holistic healing approaches consider the whole person. Often non-medical methods are incorporated that bring the mind, body, and spirit into alignment. By strengthening the connections between these aspects, an individual can feel confident in their ability to achieve sobriety and maintain it.

The Importance of the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection in Recovery

Addiction and SUD affect brain structure and functioning in lasting ways. Therefore, treatment not only requires an individual to cease alcohol and drug use but also must address any dysfunction in an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior patterns.

Substance abuse contributes lasting impairments to an individual’s physical and mental health. As a result, an individual’s emotional regulation also becomes compromised. According to Medicines:

Emotion regulation (ER) refers to “extrinsic and intrinsic processes responsible for monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotional reactions, especially their intensive and temporal features, to accomplish one’s goals.”

…Impaired ER is associated with substance use initiation and on-going use despite negative consequences, setting the stage for substance use disorders.

Difficulties in emotional regulation often perpetuate the cycle of substance abuse and addiction. Treatment helps individuals understand emotional regulation’s role in ceasing substance abuse long-term. Throughout recovery, however, individuals must utilize mind-body interventions to strengthen their emotional regulation and reduce the risk of relapse.

The journal above states the importance of these mind-body interventions: “Mind-body interventions for AOD [alcohol and other drug] misuse, which aim to prevent escalations by acknowledging the influence of physical and mental health within the social context of young adult life, do just this and are a natural adjunctive approach to those focused on social influence to create a more comprehensive strategy to AOD intervention.”

Examples of Holistic Practices

The term “holistic therapy” may be used synonymously with complementary and alternative therapy to address various mind-body interventions. Every treatment facility approaches holistic treatment differently. For example, some may influence the mind-body-spirit connection through healthy dieting and exercise, while others may offer spiritual counseling and other faith-based interventions. Here are some of the most common holistic therapies offered in addiction treatment programs:

Mindfulness Meditation

This holistic intervention involves the use of mindfulness and meditation. The National Institutes of Health’s NIH News in Health newsletter defines mindfulness as “being completely aware of what’s happening in the present — of all, that’s going on inside and all that’s happening around you.” This practice is incredibly valuable for addiction recovery, especially when facing problematic substance use triggers and cravings.

Mindfulness helps an individual to experience life moment by moment without judgment. In treatment, mindfulness may be incorporated into mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). Meditation is often encouraged for individuals in recovery as a useful coping mechanism and a valuable practice for self-awareness and healing.

Yoga and Movement

Yoga is another great holistic practice alternative to traditional forms of exercise. Yoga involves flowing from one pose to another while focusing on breathing or another intention. This practice is similar to meditation as it helps individuals calm their bodies and minds. However, as yoga also incorporates physical movement, it may be even more effective in aligning the mind, body, and spirit throughout recovery.

Some treatment facilities may even offer specialized forms of yoga, such as trauma-informed yoga. This modality is designed to help individuals become more aware of their bodies and everything happening inside them. This practice sheds light on how trauma affects the physical body and the importance of re-establishing the mind-body connection for lasting healing from trauma.

Massage Therapy

The goal of massage therapy is to reduce feelings of stress, promote calmness, and increase feelings of relaxation. Massages improve circulation, which can result in increased energy and alertness. Similar to trauma-informed therapy, this modality can help bring greater awareness to an individual’s mind-body connection.

Massage therapy can be another valuable holistic practice for individuals in addiction recovery. While massage therapy is not enough to help an individual heal from substance abuse, it can be an excellent modality with traditional therapeutic interventions.

Holistic healing is necessary for recovery from substance use disorder and addiction. This is because holistic healing can reestablish a healthy mind-body-spirit connection, vital for lasting sobriety. Facilities often offer various holistic therapies and practices to individualize client care further. At Grace Recovery, we offer transitional living homes for women seeking recovery from addiction, trauma, and co-occurring mental health disorders. We offer many services to help our clients realign their minds, bodies, and spirits. Our facility is built on empowerment, resilience, service, and community principles. If you or a loved one is seeking recovery, our facility can help. Call us today to learn more about our programs at (737) 237-9663.

About Author

Leah Malone

Learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings can be painful and disturbing at times. When Leah was able to see her behavior patterns and decided there was enough pain to be disturbed, she became motivated to make changes and accept the work that needed to be done to heal. She needed direction and had no clue how to heal on her own. Through a connection with God, authentic connection with others, honesty, willingness, and humility, Leah is now in recovery from addiction and trauma.

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