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Alternative Therapies in Addiction Treatment

Professional substance abuse treatment can make the difference between continued suffering and a healthy, sober life. As a counselor, it can be beneficial and important for your treatment plan to also include alternative therapies that address trauma and other elements of the client’s life with addiction.

Addiction treatment therapy is very broad and no two clients are alike. It is partly customized to the substance of abuse and also takes the client’s unique personality into account.

For example, some people benefit most from addiction treatment therapy that focuses on individual counseling and behavioral therapies, while others find it especially useful to try alternative therapies based on art, music or restorative yoga. Here’s what you need to know about alternative addiction treatment therapy you may wish to explore.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is used to offer the client other ways to express themselves using their creativity. Using imagination, they can express themselves nonverbally through the creation of art.

The client may have experienced trauma and other events that are difficult or too emotionally powerful to talk about, so it’s important to have art therapy as an alternative means of nonverbal expression. Different mediums used include painting, sculpting, drawing and coloring. They may find these creative outlets to be relaxing and freeing.

Music Therapy

Incorporating music into addiction treatment has shown to be helpful in promoting relaxation, reducing pain and regulating breathing. People in recovery have reported that music increases happiness and decreases stress levels. A treatment program incorporating music therapy can be used to treat trauma as well.

Music is a nonverbal method to express trauma and emotions. It can empower and impart a sense of accomplishment. While musical expression enhances emotional and mental states, your body benefits from relaxation and the accompanying positive feelings. Music creation leads to lowered blood pressure levels, relaxed muscles and regulated breathing.

Mindfulness Meditation

Stress increases the likelihood that the client may abuse alcohol or drugs. Stress management techniques, like meditation, help control and regulate stress levels. As a therapy tool, this alternative treatment is also a useful method to control stress and prevent relapse after leaving the program.

By replacing substance abuse with healthy coping skills, clients can moderate their stress levels. Mindfulness meditation emphasizes deliberation and being in the present moment. It also encourages awareness of thoughts and feelings – understanding that they will pass; feeling badly is not a permanent thing. Clients learn how to acknowledge and accept feelings and not suppress them. All of these techniques work together to reduce stress levels.

Alternative therapies are invaluable tools both during and after treatment. Relapse prevention methods can be likened to quality tools in the client’s toolbox of continued sobriety. As they learn to recognize different relapse triggers, such as stress and traumatic events that inevitably occur after treatment, they’ll have the appropriate tools to stay sober.

Art, music and mindfulness meditation can be part of your treatment toolbox, at the ready to help prevent relapse and assist your clients in maintaining a sober life.

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