treating the whole person in recovery

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What is Whole-Person Care Approach?

The whole-person care approach is a well-rounded treatment plan that focuses on treating all areas of someone’s life. The whole-person approach focuses on treatment to heal the mind, body, and spirit. This approach is beneficial since addiction and other health issues often stem from many areas of someone’s life. Treating the whole person in addiction can help someone get sober and work on underlying issues that may be causing the addiction.

Oftentimes, addiction can stem from many different areas of someone’s life, such as mental health issues, trauma, physical or emotional pain, or other daily stresses that may be occurring. Treating the whole person can dig into those underlying issues and fix the root of the problem.

Important Factors of Treating the Whole Person in Recovery

It is vital to treat the whole person in recovery because many areas of someone’s life can contribute to addiction. To ensure the success of the treatment plan, pay attention to both the patient’s physical and social environment. Treating both of these areas simultaneously will provide higher success rates and will maintain overall health and well-being.

Physical Environment

Developing a healthy physical environment will lead to many benefits for a treatment program. For people who struggle with addiction, their physical environment can create many triggers that cause temptations to drink or use drugs. A treatment program that focuses on the whole person will work with the patient to create a physical living environment that limits triggers that may cause a relapse. Behavioral therapists work with patients to develop healthy habits that reroute negative behaviors into positive outlets that create a better living environment.

Social Environment

Social factors can also influence addiction and lead to temptations that may cause a relapse. Peer pressure or other social factors that cause someone to enter an environment with drinking or drugs can lead to many issues that hinder recovery.

Surrounding yourself with positive people who have your best interest in mind can be a great way to make continual progress in recovery. Having a supportive environment with family or friends who care about your health and well-being can is greatly beneficial for a life of sobriety. A treatment plan with a whole-person care approach will work with you to create a positive social environment for long-term success.1

Co-Occurring Disorders of Addiction

When someone struggles with addiction, they may also experience co-occurring disorders that influence addiction or worsen the symptoms. Co-occurring disorders may be mental or physical and can cause many negative health effects on top of the addiction. It is recommended to treat both the addiction and co-occurring disorders at the same time to receive the best results from a treatment program.

Mental Health

In 2014, SAMHSA found that approximately 7.9 million people in the United States experienced addiction and a mental health disorder simultaneously, which is approximately 40% of the total population that experienced addiction in that year.2 These statistics show that there is a significant overlap between addiction and mental health issues. A whole-person treatment plan provides therapy and other resources that take a well-rounded approach to treating both issues simultaneously.

Physical Health

Physical health issues such as injuries or chronic pain can also lead to addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.”3 While prescription opioids can be helpful for many, they do have a large potential for abuse.

If someone is experiencing severe chronic pain, they are more likely to develop an addiction due to misusing addictive painkillers. Whole person treatment can work with an individual to treat both their physical health concerns and the addiction. This treatment method will help achieve the best results for addiction treatment and ensure long-term health and well-being for the patient.


Elements of Treating the Whole Person in Recovery

Whole person treatment is a well-rounded approach that consists of many layers. Treatment focuses on areas that benefit the mind, body, and spirit to develop good all-around health.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often used in addiction treatment to help the patient work on developing healthy behaviors, create coping mechanisms to deal with temptations, and discover any underlying issues that may be contributing to addiction. A well-rounded therapy program will focus on all areas of a patient’s life to get them the best results.

Contingency Management

Contingency management is an incentive-based approach to addiction treatment, often based upon the patient receiving rewards for reaching certain milestones in recovery. Studies have shown that incentive-based programs are effective for increasing treatment retention and encouraging abstinence from drugs.4


Detox is an important element in any treatment program. When someone is addicted to a substance, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. Proper treatment and support services are necessary to keep the patient as safe and comfortable as possible.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a form of counseling used to help patients get through the barriers that cause them to doubt treatment. In MET, motivational interviewing principles encourage individuals who are struggling and help them create a plan for success.5

12-Step Programs

12-step programs, such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous), can be beneficial to someone’s success in recovery. A 12-step program creates a structured program to follow through the recovery process. It can also create a positive social environment with others who are looking to achieve the same goals.



Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapy methods are common in a whole-person treatment approach. Common alternative therapies include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Art and music therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Exercise therapy
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Nutrition therapy

Many of these practices create a beneficial impact as part of a treatment program. Practicing some alternative therapies shapes a well-rounded approach that is beneficial to overall health and well-being.6


How Does the Treatment Work?

The whole-person approach will take many steps to treat the addiction and other important areas of the patient’s life.

Stopping the Addiction

The first step of the treatment process will be focused on stopping the addiction. This initial step will consist of detox and working through any withdrawal symptoms. Going to a treatment center during this period is recommended to make this process as safe and comfortable as possible.

Identifying the Reasons for Abuse

The next step of the treatment process is identifying and beginning treatment for the causes of addiction. Behavioral therapy is helpful during this step to determine the causes of addiction and any underlying issues that may require treatment.

Coping With Triggers

Part of the treatment process is learning coping mechanisms that can be used to deal with the stresses of life without the use of drugs or alcohol. Whole person treatment focuses on relaxation, thought disruption, and visualization techniques that help cope with triggers. Learning and applying these techniques will be beneficial to maintaining long-term sobriety.

Finding Alternatives to Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Part of a well-rounded treatment program is finding positive alternatives to drug and alcohol abuse. By participating in positive activities, such as exercise, healthy eating, art, music, or other hobbies, will help develop healthy habits that can be used to cope with stress and develop a good daily routine.

Questions About Treatment?

Reach out to Advaita Integrated Medicine today and let us guide you toward a full and rewarding life uninhibited by mental health or substance use disorder challenges. We are here to support you every step of the way.

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