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Alternative Drug Treatment And Addiction Programs

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Everyone is different and experiences drug and alcohol addiction in different ways. For this reason, many drug rehabs offer various forms of treatment including alternative treatment methods. Most rehabs offer alternative treatment as an option, but some treatment centers require patients to participate in alternative treatment as part of their overall recovery program. In this article, we explore what alternative treatment is, who it’s best for, and the most popular types of alternative treatment offered in drug rehabs today.

What Is Alternative Addiction Treatment?

Alternative treatment, sometimes called supplemental or complementary treatment, is an approach to addiction treatment that waivers from the more traditional treatment methods used in substance use disorder recovery. Alternative substance abuse treatment is most often found in rehab centers that provide individualized plans of recovery for each patient that is based on the patient’s unique needs and condition. Alternative methods came about as a result of research finding that not everyone benefits from a one-size-fits-all recovery approach.

Alternative drug and alcohol addiction treatment can consist of many things with the most common being holistic treatment methods. “Holistic” means that the whole person is taken into account and treated rather than just the symptoms of their addiction. Popular types of holistic treatment typically offered in a rehab facility include acupuncture, meditation, yoga, nutrition support, massage therapy, mental health support, and neurofeedback. These treatment methods encourage change and empowerment while providing patients with stress relief and teaching them how to cope with cravings and triggers naturally.

Is Alternative Treatment Best for a Person Who Needs Detox?

Patients who typically benefit most from alternative drug and alcohol addiction treatment include those who are looking for a different experience than what a traditional addiction program offers. Traditional rehab programs tend to center around a 12-step program, and not everyone is open and receptive to this.

Additionally, patients who are unable to get their individual needs met through traditional treatment also benefit from alternative treatment options. Alternative methods provide patients with a variety of approaches to addiction recovery and allow them to essentially choose which approach works best for their particular needs and preferences. There are some alternative detoxification programs that use naltrexone. This helps especially for outpatient programs or intensive outpatient when a loved one is trying to overcome drug addiction.

Benefits of Alternative Treatment in Drug Rehab

There are several benefits that alternative addiction treatment can provide. The most common benefits patients experience from alternative drug rehab include:

  • A whole-person approach that treats the mind, body, and spirit rather than just the substance addiction
  • The chance for patients to explore the various ways in which addiction has affected their lives, minds, and bodies through support groups
  • Provides natural stress-relief solutions which can help reduce relapse and drop-out rates in drug rehab centers
  • Offers long-term benefits including better sleep and healthier eating and exercise habits
  • Gives patients the opportunity to learn holistic ways of coping with stress, cravings, and triggers
  • Offers patients a greater variety of treatment methods
  • Alternative drug abuse programs in the United States typically provide patients with a peaceful and mindful recovery environment that can be less stressful than more traditional addiction programs
  • Group therapy in a recovery program like Alcoholics Anonymous and
  • Narcotics Anonymous uses a traditional model intended to decrease relapse
  • Smart Recovery is a non-AA or non-12 step that focuses more on individualized counseling and less on group therapy

Types of Alternative Alcohol Treatment

There are several types of alternative treatments that holistic drug rehabs offer. The most popular alternative treatment options include the following:


Acupuncture is seen more and more in drug addiction treatment due to its reputation for helping to ease drug withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Acupuncture involves a specialist sticking several small needles in various acupoints on the body to stimulate different reactions such as a sense of calm and reduced cravings for substances. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) strongly backs up the claims that acupuncture can help in addiction rehab and believes that it helps to correct mind, body, and spirit imbalances.


Meditation has also become increasingly popular for drug use and the recovery community as it can provide help with a sense of self-awareness that can give them insight into their addiction and overall behavioral health. Meditation also encourages patients to release their hold on the external world and put more focus on their internal worlds. Through meditation, individuals can hone the mental strength that comes in handy when faced with a craving.


Yoga can be incredibly relaxing as well as mentally strengthening. The goal of yoga is to connect the mind, body, and spirit and increase awareness in the present moment. This can ultimately help patients cultivate a sense of inner peace that can be useful during times of stress such as when a craving to use drugs or alcohol arises or when the patient is presented with a trigger. Yoga is also a great way to get the blood flowing in the body, increase focus, and leave individuals feeling rejuvenated.

Nutritional Support

Many people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol forgo their health while actively using substances. As a result, many individuals entering into drug rehab often have nutritional deficiencies as well as malnourishment, dehydration, and other diet-related issues that can have a negative impact on their health and wellness. Some rehabs offer nutritional support to help patients learn how to properly eat and use supplements to support their body’s needs so they can feel their best physically and mentally.


Biofeedback is a therapy technique that monitors a person’s body responses during certain situations. During a biofeedback session, patients are typically hooked up to a device that monitors their skin conductance, muscle tension, and heart rate while they are exposed to various situations such as a trigger to use drugs and alcohol. Knowing how their body responds physiologically can give patients the ability to use this information in future situations to self-regulate. This can potentially help individuals overcome cravings and triggers naturally and in a healthy manner.

Exercise Programs

Exercise has several proven benefits, all of which will support a person working on recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. These benefits include improved health and physical fitness, decreased anxiety and depression, boosted mood, and a way to fill the time they used to spend using substances by focusing on something healthy. Exercise programs at a drug rehab may include group fitness classes, gym time, and general encouragement to be physically active during their stay at the treatment facility.

Animal-assisted Therapy

Animal-assisted therapy is when patients recovering from drug and alcohol addiction interact with animals as a form of treatment. There are several benefits that can come from animal-assisted therapy, including decreased stress levels, increased self-esteem, lowered blood pressure, and reduced depression and anxiety. All of these benefits can help a person feel better during and after addiction treatment and support their recovery efforts.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is an alternative therapy method that involves using art to process emotions as well as relax in a healthy way. A variety of mediums can be used during art therapy such as colored pencils, clay, paint, and beads. Some patients are even able to learn new things about themselves or discover a hidden passion for art during art therapy sessions.

Relaxation Techniques

Many people use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with life and its daily stressors. Teaching relaxation techniques can help individuals learn how to relax naturally and not depend on drugs and alcohol to feel calm. Common relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, meditation, listening to music, art therapy, aromatherapy, and yoga.

Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy is an alternative treatment method that incorporates outside activities into patients’ treatment plans. Common adventure therapy activities include camping, hiking, completing a ropes course, and rock climbing. This type of therapy is used to challenge patients to push themselves and see what they are capable of. It can also be used to show patients a parallel to their life so that they can gain valuable insight into what motivates them. Additional benefits of adventure therapy include increased physical fitness, the opportunity to develop life skills and to learn how a person responds during stressful situations.

Alternative Drug Rehab Programs

In addition to the alternative treatment methods discussed in the previous section, there are also alternative drug rehabs that offer treatment to specific demographics. By doing so, these rehabs can provide a treatment experience that caters to these groups’ specific needs and is often more welcoming and inclusive than more traditional rehab programs. A few of the alternative drug rehab programs include:

  • Young adult drug rehab
  • Women’s only drug rehab
  • LGBTQ+ drug and alcohol rehab
  • Men’s only rehab programs
  • Wilderness drug rehab programs

These types of rehab programs are not as common as more general addiction treatment programs, so you may need to work with an addiction specialist to find the best alternative drug rehab for your needs.

Finding a Treatment Center That Offers Alternative Therapy or Alternative Programs

To find out if a drug rehab offers alternative addiction therapy options, you can visit their website or give the treatment facility a call to inquire. You can also give one of our dedicated treatment specialists a call and we will gladly help you determine which rehab center offers the best treatment program for you.