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Holistic, in more than name

February 1, 2011
by Joe Eisele, CAC III, NCAC
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An openness to new approaches characterizes a mind, body, and spirit-environment mindset

Over the years there have been many types of approaches to treating addiction, ranging from the traditional to the downright wacky. While treatment philosophies and treatment centers come and go, it remains certain that in our ever-stressful lives more people are turning to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping. Along with the increase in the number of people struggling with addiction, there has been a rapid emergence of “holistic” treatment centers promoted to address their needs.

Joe eisele, cac iii, ncac
Joe Eisele, CAC III, NCAC

Clients seeking addiction treatment are bombarded with a bewildering array of choices, from traditional approaches to alternative treatments such as acupuncture or nutritional therapies. Use of the term “holistic” to define a treatment center's philosophy has become widespread. There clearly is no standard definition for the term, nor any sort of accepted guidelines for what constitutes holistic treatment.

Merriam Webster defines holistic as “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.” A Google search using the term “holistic treatment center” yields a staggering 7.6 million results. When visiting many of these sites, one tends to find that the programs have traditional roots but perhaps have added a technique such as acupuncture, or provide a multivitamin and fish oil, and thus they call their treatment “holistic.” It is no wonder people seeking treatment are confused and often disillusioned by the terminology.

In theory, “holistic treatment” sounds ideal-why would anyone want partial treatment? It also makes sense that the answer to addiction is much more complex than simple abstinence from substances. Other factors such as the client's environment, nutrition, lifestyle, genetics and biochemistry all contribute to the desire to self-medicate. When a client hears that a treatment center offers a holistic approach, the interpretation varies from client to client.

It is a good bet that even among the professionals reading this article there are dozens if not hundreds of interpretations of what constitutes holistic treatment. Therein lies both the problem and the opportunity. The problem is how best to describe treatment so that the services received match the perception. The opportunity is present in the invitation to embrace other alternative modalities and techniques that address more than just the mental component of chemical dependency.

Core principles

At InnerBalance Health Center, we realize the value of a variety of approaches and we recognize that there are methods that will work for some and not work for others. What we attempt to do is identify the strengths of a variety of techniques and personalize those to the individual seeking treatment.

Over the years, many common techniques have been well-established, and those are leveraged into the treatment plan. In addition, newer treatment approaches that have been proven to assist in client healing are incorporated to augment and improve the overall effectiveness of our treatment program.

At InnerBalance Health Center, our holistic approach focuses on four key areas for treating the individual: mind, body, spirit and environment.

Mind: InnerBalance leverages successful techniques from traditional treatment modalities (solution-focused brief therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy) and then builds on that foundation by adding individual counseling sessions in a variety of areas such as life coaching, addiction counseling, family counseling and nutritional/biocounseling. The sessions focus on the client's present circumstances and creating both short-term and longer-term goals for sobriety and establishing a balanced, fulfilling life.

Body: One of the most significant differences between traditional and holistic treatment programs is what InnerBalance refers to as “the missing link” to treating chemical dependency. Over the past several decades, there have been numerous respected studies that have linked biochemical imbalances to a person's desire to self-medicate. These imbalances include CBS and/or methylation gene, hypoglycemia, histadelia (high levels of blood histamine), pyroluria (abnormality in hemoglobin synthesis), hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue, thyroid disorders, food allergies, heavy metals, and amino acid imbalances. A high-quality treatment program provides an extensive array of medical tests and lab work in order to design a personalized treatment regimen to address each imbalance naturally without pharmaceuticals.

Treatments include personalized nutritional and diet plans, IV amino acid therapy, supplementation, infrared sauna, Reiki, acupuncture and gentle exercise-all targeted at healing the underlying causes of the symptoms driving the addiction (insomnia, depression, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, racing mind) without pharmaceuticals. Just as no two individuals are exactly the same, no two treatment plans are either.

Spirit: Addiction severs important spiritual connections with the client's self, loved ones and higher power, and a holistic treatment program recognizes this and assists the client with regaining these connections. The goal is to help clients explore their spirituality by exposing them to a variety of paths (nature; 12-Step and other support groups such as Women for Sobriety, LifeRing and SMART Recovery; meditation; journaling; arts and crafts; reconnecting with loved ones and pets; yoga; drumming; hobbies).