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Alternative Drug Treatment And Addiction Programs

Alternative addiction treatment awaits a young male walking

Published: October 2, 2023

Addiction treatment comes in many forms, but the goal of each is the same — to help you continue to recover from drug or alcohol use. What does this look like?

It looks like examining your past and present, looking for clues, triggers, and unhealthy habits. Looking for the good that can stay. Figuring out how you avoid unhealthy habits and respond differently when triggered.

How you accomplish these goals is up to you, and some people respond better to an alternative approach to drug and alcohol rehab. To learn more about alternative drug treatment and addiction programs that veer from a traditional path, take a look through this article.

What Does Alternative Addiction Treatment Mean?

Alternative addiction treatment refers to types of treatment for addiction that may fall outside of standard medical care. Different types of treatment offer different benefits, and most of them work as some sort of coping mechanism.

Often, they can make it easier to work through the issues of your addiction and give you ways to direct your energy in recovery. They take a more holistic approach that’s intended to treat your overall well-being.

The myriad choices allow you to find what works best for you regardless of what is traditionally accepted. And since the most important aspect is to focus on recovery rather than popular opinion, you may find something below that works for you.

Before beginning any holistic treatment, be sure to talk it over with your healthcare provider.

How Alternative Treatments Work in Recovery

Alternative treatments are a component of recovery, not a standalone remedy. Each alternative addiction therapy operates differently as a part of an overall drug addiction treatment plan.

Generally speaking, alternative treatments may be a more peaceful approach to the life you want to lead.

You’ll still need to go through detox and some combination of traditional treatment programs, but you can work with a healthcare provider to include treatments outside the norm.

Studies have been done on alternative treatments like acupuncture and EFT that prove these are effective options for coping with recovery.

Types of Alternative Treatments in Recovery Programs

The following are some of the most common types of alternative addiction treatments.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies take many different forms. The provider administering the treatment may be medically certified, but it’s not always required. The most important thing is to find the alternative treatment option that works best for you.

It’s also relevant to note that, while many of these therapies have initially proven to be effective, there aren’t a lot of studies done on some of them and little to no regulation or standardization of certain practices.

Art Therapy

Art therapy can be a way to visually express what you’re feeling and interpret how you present it. It can also be a meditative and calming exercise, creating space for you to escape a little or process your emotions.

Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy is commonly done with a group and outdoors. The group may explore a new area or complete exercises and activities that help each person discover who they are and how they respond in high-risk situations. It’s considered especially helpful for at-risk young adults.

Equine Therapy

Equine therapy is ideal for horse lovers. Basic care activities are standard components. Advanced equine therapy might include creating an obstacle course to lead the horse.

As horses tend to respond to what we’re feeling, working with a horse helps you understand your feelings and learn to manage how you express them.

Music Therapy

Sessions in music therapy may include writing or performing music, but they can also be more about listening to a song and reflecting on what you hear and feel as it plays. Approaches to this type of therapy are evidence-based and may be done in an individual or group setting.


Sensors attached to your body will track blood pressure, heart rate, brain activity, and other physiological responses. The therapist will tell you how your body responds in each moment, and you can use that information to adjust your body’s response.


Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that focuses on brain activity levels through sensors adhered to your skin. As with other types of biofeedback, you’re updated regularly on your body’s reaction to help you move toward more positive responses to stimuli.

Emotional Freedom Techniques

EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques, are a series of tapping exercises performed by yourself or a professional.

While tapping or being tapped in specific locations and following a set sequence, you repeat to yourself a mantra based on the focus of your energy. The tapping sequence continues until your response level lowers.


The movement, focus, and breathing techniques used in yoga help to treat many symptoms in recovering from drug use. The effects of regular practice of yoga are known to reduce stress in the general population.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation have been studied as treatments for drug addiction because of the self-regulating tools they give practitioners. For recovery purposes, these are often carried out in a group setting as guided practices.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is often included as part of detox during recovery from substance abuse. It helps remove toxins from the body, reduces pain, and promotes higher levels of feel-good chemicals in your brain.


Aromatherapy can be used during recovery to help with stress, provide mental clarity, remind you of good memories, and more. Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for different medicinal purposes, and helping with drug addiction detox and recovery are among those.

Reiki Therapy

Reiki therapy focuses on the energy of your body. During a session, the practitioner will move their hands over your body without touching or with only light touching to move your energy around. This type of therapy is meant to heal physical resonance of trauma and unblock your energy.

Psychodrama Treatment

Sometimes the hardest parts of recovery to work through are the thoughts and situations that are locked in your brain, that spin around and around.

Psychodrama treatment provides an outlet for role-playing or acting out past experiences, ways to cope with current challenges, and expression of future worries in a safe environment.

Non-12-Step Addiction Treatment Programs

Twelve-step programs have become well-known from the original Alcoholics Anonymous group that pioneered them and are shown to be successful. Yet there are many other addiction treatment programs that can help you in your recovery but don’t follow the commonly used 12-step model.

Non-12-step addiction treatment programs include:

  • LifeRing Secular Recovery
  • Moderation Management
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (S.O.S.)
  • Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) Recovery
  • Women for Sobriety


Tiny needles are inserted at specific points on the body during acupuncture, and studies have shown that this alternative treatment is effective in assisting detoxification and addressing withdrawal symptoms like cravings.

Vitamin Supplements

Drug addiction removes a lot of nutrients from your body, and vitamin supplements given as part of a treatment program can help restore nutrients. They may also be helpful for boosting your overall health during recovery. Before taking any vitamin supplements, check with your doctor.

Breath Work

Breath work involves focusing on your breathing patterns. There are several methods, and each includes counts for inhaling, holding, and releasing your breath. This can be a calming way to manage stress and pain during recovery.

What to Expect During an Alternative Addiction Treatment Session

Because the options for alternative addiction treatment are so varied, there’s no one-size-fits-all description for a session.

If you love animals, you might consider trying equine therapy. You’ll work with a therapist and a handler as well as the horse, all of whom are specifically trained.

Sessions typically start with you and the horse becoming accustomed to one another as you groom or lead your four-legged partner around. You learn about how you’re feeling and the consequences of your reactions through how the horse responds to you.

As you progress, you may be given the opportunity to develop an obstacle course to lead the horse through. In rare instances, you may even be allowed to ride the horse.

Or, say you’re a big believer in the power of the unseen. Maybe you want to try Reiki Therapy, which directs your energy and works to unblock the flow. You might not see what the practitioner is doing, but you may feel a difference.

Maybe what you’ve been needing is a safer way to express your emotions, and art therapy is the right answer. You can use color and shapes to define how you’re feeling. You can spend time examining the finished product and deciding if it fits your intent.

The type of alternative treatment you choose and what you can expect from it will depend on your preferences and what you hope to gain from the treatment.

Benefits of Alternative Treatments in Addiction Recovery

In addiction recovery, the goal is to remove harmful things from your life. Sometimes what’s considered the usual way of handling things isn’t going to work for you.

By considering alternative treatments when your treatment plan needs a little more, you’re advocating for yourself and what you need to continue recovery.

Alternative treatments can provide you with valuable tools. Some, like breath work, yoga, meditation, and EFT, can be performed solo and without anything more than your own body.

Others, like performance therapy, massage therapy, biofeedback, and adventure therapy, require you to work with professionals. And that’s okay — a large part of recovery is learning how to build a support group and make connections to help with relapse prevention.

If you want to avoid some of the more traditional medications and substance abuse treatments that may be too harsh for your body, you might find alternative treatments that are sustainable for long-term recovery.

Cost of Alternative Addiction Treatments

The cost of alternative addiction treatments can be tricky to nail down. Plus, your insurance may not cover it even if it’s included in your overall treatment plan.

Several factors affect the cost of alternative addiction treatments, including:

How to Decide if Alternative Addiction Treatment is Right for You

Alternative addiction treatment may be the perfect solution for you. Fortunately, you can decide based on some fairly simple criteria.

If you’re considering alternative addiction treatment, ask yourself:

  • Have I tried standard drug addiction treatments but am still struggling with coping in a healthy way?
  • Do I feel like I’m doing okay with my treatment plan but could use a little more than what’s currently offered?
  • How often do I find myself in situations where I don’t have someone with me but I need to deal with something triggering without turning to drugs?
  • Does the treatment I’m currently receiving meet all of my needs and match my preferred lifestyle?

Find Alternative Drug Rehab Near You

You’re at the point where you know you need different help than what’s normally offered, and you want to consider alternatives. Locating an alternative drug rehab treatment facility close by can be challenging.

If you’re having trouble finding alternative treatment solutions that fit your needs, interests, and lifestyle, you can contact through our helpline today.

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