Can Holistic Treatment Work for Opiate Addiction and Withdrawal?

by | Last updated Oct 13, 2022 | Published on Oct 5, 2022 | Treatment | 0 comments

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Opioid abuse disorder is a complex medical condition involving physiological, psychological, genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. There are many treatment methods, and patients often react differently to each. In the 70s, holistic medicine started gaining ground in American medicine, and since then, its proponents and applications have grown significantly. Eventually, some rehab facilities started offering holistic treatment for opiate addiction and withdrawal management. 

What is holistic medicine?

Holistic medicine is a form of healing based on the principle that every patient must be considered a unique individual consisting of body, mind, and spirit.

According to holistic principles, treatment must be approached as a team effort between a doctor and a patient. Both take into account the above factors and the patient’s environment to make the best decision for recovery.

The treatments proposed by holistic practitioners may include:

  • An emphasis on lifestyle changes and self-care to promote overall wellness through nutrition, exercise, psychotherapy, relationship and spiritual counseling, and more
  • Complementary and alternative therapeutic practices like acupuncture, chiropractic care, homeopathy, massage therapy, naturopathy, and others

Can holistic medicine help alleviate opioid addiction and withdrawal symptoms?

Many holistic treatments boast evidence-based health benefits. Some of them, like acupuncture, have been approved by the World Health Organization for treating some symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal, such as depression and anxiety.

A review by the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that there is potential for using acupuncture as an auxiliary method to alleviate depression and anxiety caused by opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, most of the prior studies reviewed by the scientists were not as well-designed as they should have been, requiring further studies to confirm the efficacy of acupuncture in opioid addiction treatment as a whole.  

Another study found that a combination of certain traditional Chinese medicine herbs may contribute to relieving the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, such as anxiety and insomnia.  And a review concluded that some Chinese and Indian traditional herbal preparations have anti-addiction effects with fewer adverse effects than alpha2-adrenergic or opioid agonists, suggesting they could be incorporated into modern treatments.

Other natural remedies that holistic practitioners may prescribe to treat symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal and addiction, such as Tai-Kang-Ning, ginseng, passion flower, ginger, and black seed. 

Additionally, holistic practitioners may recommend gradual lifestyle changes such as physical exercise and improved sleep habits.

In some cases, evidence shows that holistic treatment proposals can contribute to alleviating withdrawal symptoms, but more high-quality studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions.

If you are considering getting holistic treatment for opiate abuse or withdrawal, inform yourself about the process before going into it. Always do so with the approval of a qualified addiction expert.

What are the symptoms of opioid withdrawal?

Addiction changes brain function to the point that the body adapts to needing the opioid to function normally, and psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms appear when the opioid is not consumed. 

The most common symptoms include:

  • Watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing
  • Yawning and disturbed sleep
  • Hot and cold flushes, sweating, and goosebumps
  • Feeling anxious or irritable
  • Strong cravings for opioids
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a lack of appetite
  • Tremors (shaking)

What are some holistic treatment alternatives for opioid withdrawal and addiction?

Multiple holistic addiction centers across the U.S. offer treatment alternatives for opioid addiction and withdrawal. 

Mindfulness training

Mindfulness training involves learning to relax and to become aware of your present situation, such as the sounds, smells, and surrounding environment. Learning to “be in the present” can help patients calmly process their emotions and feelings. Mindfulness training teaches people to approach their situations without judgment through quiet reflection and meditation.

Animal therapy

Animal therapy involves emotional healing by taking care of animals, such as grooming them and taking care of their needs under the supervision of mental health professionals. This treatment aims to help patients develop skills, such as self-control, personal accountability, and self-confidence, to provide a gateway for personal improvement.

Amino acid therapy

A clinical intervention focuses on the nutritional deficiencies associated with opioid addiction and withdrawal. People going through opioid withdrawal can experience hormonal imbalances, chronic inflammation, and pain. Amino acid therapy helps replenish vitamin and mineral deficiencies to return the body to its balanced state. 

Should you receive holistic treatment for opioid withdrawal and addiction?

Some people may find holistic treatment for opioid withdrawal and addiction very healing. Whether that includes you is something only you can determine. Everyone is different and requires different methods or degrees of the same method.

The exact method you need depends on your individual needs and what you respond best to. Reach out to an addiction specialist and find a rehab facility that can provide personalized treatment to help you achieve long-lasting recovery from opioid addiction. 

Written by: Serene G.

Written by: Serene G.

Serene has over 8 years of marketing experience as well as a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a dual concentration in Biological Sciences and Social and Behavioral Sciences. While completing this degree, she completed numerous courses pertaining to substance abuse and mental health, such as Drugs and Behavior, Health Behavior and Society, and Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Policy. She is also called to help those who struggle with addiction because she has seen multiple loved ones struggle with substance abuse. Today, Serene uses her knowledge, background, and passion to educate and connect with individuals and families afflicted by addiction.

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