13 Valuable Alternative Treatments for Addiction

September 24th, 2014

It’s safe to say that alternative treatments for addiction are no longer, actually, alternative in the “outside of the mainstream” sense. These days, many treatment facilities and therapists offer an array of these types of “supplemental” therapies, including acupuncture, equine (horse) therapy, neurofeedback, biochemical restoration, hypnotherapy, yoga, watsu (water therapy), meditation, ropes courses, sound therapy, and many more. Additionally, researchers are proving that experimental treatment with psychedelic drugs—though still illegal in the U.S.—can have profound effects on reducing cravings and preventing relapse.

There still remains controversy among many recovery professionals as to whether “alternative” treatments can hold their own. The dominant view in the profession is that such treatment modes can be highly effective complements to traditional treatment, helping recovering addicts and alcoholics to muscle through early sobriety. But these techniques can’t do the recovery job alone; a “holistic” therapy such as meditation, for example, should be used in conjunction with traditional treatment-as-usual approaches. “I am not aware of any research supporting the sole use of holistic treatments for chemical dependency,” says rehab center program director Leslie Sanders.

Even so, advocates of many of the treatment modes argue they can have a profound if not crucial influence on recovery. What follows is a guide to some of the dominant and most promising alternative treatment modes and the evidence of their effectiveness, either as stand-alone or supplementary treatment strategies.

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Posted in SBIRT


A Project of the Governor's Institute on Alcohol & Substance Abuse and the North Carolina Society of Addiction Medicine.
Funded wholly or in part by the federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Fund (CFDA #93.959) as a project of the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities & Substance Abuse Services.