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The healing power of holistic rehab

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October 10, 2018
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According to the latest data, there are more than 14,000 rehab centers spread all across the United States, providing everything from specialized medication to mental health counseling. However, in spite of all these facilities, America seems to be in the middle of a drug addiction crisis. A Medcape study reveals that drugs kill almost 45,000 people every year and that overdoses are now the number one injury-related death in the country.

The addiction problem has become one of the most complex challenges that the U.S. healthcare system is dealing with, and the fact that statistics are often contradictory do not make it any easier to manage. On the one hand, some sources claim that the main problem with addition is that 90% of the people who need rehabilitation do not go or do not manage to stay in a rehab center. On the other hand, the success rates in most rehabs are highly interpretable and do not always reflect the reality of rebound and post-rehab life.

The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine says that one of the reasons why so many rehab patients end up relapsing is that clinics treat the symptoms, not the source, and they do not address the source of addiction to begin with. This is a problem that holistic rehab centers are trying to solve.

Focusing on the patient as a “whole”, not just the isolated symptoms of addiction, holistic rehabs put the needs of the patient first and use a unified body-mind approach, focusing on wellness and spiritual healing.
Solving the addiction puzzle: the problem with conventional rehab
To understand the gap that holistic rehab centers are trying to fill, first we must know the way conventional rebab centers operate and their biggest shortcomings. In Florida, for instance, which is the country’s biggest drug addiction hub, experts have pointed out many issues with conventional rehabs, even those that utilize state of the art medical equipment and employ qualified professionals. As long as the focus is on the symptoms of addiction, not the cause, the patient will most likely relapse and go in and out of rehab. For many, the vicious circle ends tragically.

The vast majority of traditional rehab clinics in the U.S. use the now famous 12-step program, but more and more studies show that the one-size fits all approach is not efficient. Not all patients have the same profile and they do not respond to treatment in the same way. The roots of addiction run deep – it is caused by 60% genetic/biological factors and 40% by psychological factors. Delivering the best treatment involves taking the time to understand the needs of each patient and address those exact factors that triggered the addiction in the first place. In the best holistic rehabs, this involves a personalized combination of medication, counseling, behavioral therapy and holistic practices.
What does the holistic approach involve?
Holistic rehab centers can employ some of the traditional services – group therapy, family services, recreational therapy – but they mostly focus on holistic practices that tap into the patient’s healing power, addressing the issue from a mental and spiritual perspective:

Herbal therapy – rehab centers recommend plant-based treatments to detox the body, promote healthy nutrition and reduce the unhealthy food cravings that can amplify substance abuse. For example, certain plants found in ancient Chinese medicine have been scientifically proven to prevent relapse by inhibiting alcohol cravings – Salvia miltiorrhiza and Radix Pueraiae.
Massage therapy an ancient practice that modern medicine is starting to rediscover. Massage therapy has two major benefits: first of all, it is an effective relaxation technique that reduces stress and secondly, it can reduce the muscle pain associated with withdrawal.
Reiki this is another relaxation technique and form of energy therapy that was first used in Japan in the 1800’s and that involves the transfer of energy from the practitioner’s hands to the patients. Reiki is said to melt away energy blocks and induce a state of relaxation. So far, small studies have shown that Reiki does provide pain relief, but the practice is already starting to gain mass popularity and many hospitals in the U.S. have actually introduced it in their services.
Ayurveda this term actually refers to a larger set of Indian practices that nurture the mind, body and spirit. Ayurveda practices include meditation, yoga and even dietary changes that aim to nurture the patient’s body and mind, so that they reach optimal wellness levels.

Alternatively, holistic rehab centers can also use chiropractic remedies and naturopathic medicine, but the treatment is never the same for everyone. Because they focus so much on an individualized approach, practitioners first sit down with the patient and their family to establish the right therapeutic combination. Therapy may be adjusted depending on the progress and patient feedback.

The environment in which rehabilitation takes place is also very important. The patient cannot overcome the biological and psychological blockages that pushed them towards addiction if they do not feel at home, in a safe and nurturing environment, which is why more and more holistic centers incorporate luxury amenities. These include not just serene, beautifully decorated rooms, but also exterior landscaping, with gardens and outdoor meditation spots, the idea being to make the patient feel at home, but in an austere medical facility.

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