The Trend Toward Holistic Alcohol Rehabs

The Trend Toward Holistic Alcohol Rehabs


Most alcohol rehabs out there do whatever they can to help the struggling alcoholic. It is easy to criticize an industry that tries so hard to help alcoholics, but I still think we should think critically about rehabs and see what changes might be made. Success rates at most drug and alcohol rehabs are typically very low and we could be doing better in my opinion.

For example, what will rehab centers look like in 20 years from now? There are probably two options: one is that the medical field gets serious about making real progress in this area and they actually find a magic bullet, such as a medication that seriously helps out with addiction in a big way. This is a possibility and in fact many people are hoping for this to happen. But the chances of a miracle medication seem pretty slim. Even with such a magic pill, addicts and alcoholics who really want to self destruct are still going to be difficult to treat. There is no magic cure for low self esteem. It takes hard work to recover from a multi-faceted disease that attacks people physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Just-In-Time.Flowers

This is why I advocate the push for a holistic approach to recovery. Addiction attacks people in so many ways. The old way is to simply treat the problem. Remove the booze. Treat the alcoholic. Get them dried out. Help them find faith through a 12 step program. Etc.

This works on so few people that it is ridiculous. The numbers are downright atrocious. We need a fresh approach to treating alcoholism. Just my 2 cents of course.

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What is the fresh approach? Well, unfortunately it is probably a lot more expensive. But the old way is broken and does not work. What we need is an integrated, holistic approach. Treating alcoholics physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and so on. All at the same time.

It is not enough to seek social support through a 12 step fellowship. The vast majority of people who do that end up relapsing. Advocates of the 12 step program argue that they are not working the program properly. This is probably true, but what is the solution? We are not talking about a small group of people. This is a worldwide phenomenon. AA has reported in their census data that a full 80 percent of people have left AA within a years time, never to return. This cannot be called a success. We need to pursue a better solution.

I propose that this solution should be:

1) Holistic based rather than faith based.

2) Focused on personal growth as a means of recovery rather than on a spiritual experience.

3) Attempting to get people to change through personal growth and goal achievement, rather than to shift personality through a spiritual experience and develop a dependency on group therapy.

4) Make the individual stronger in their personal recovery, rather than push people to develop a way of living that is dependent on group therapy and meetings on a regular basis as as means of maintaining their sobriety.

In the long term, holistic methods seem to work better than short term tactics anyway (such as groups and meetings as a means of immediate support in early recovery….yet people still relapse after years in the program?). Why not shift towards a more independent and personal path in recovery?


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