We’ve already looked at the benefits of holistic recovery. Now let’s look at how treatment plays into this approach.
Attending treatment or drug rehab is one of the best things that you can do if you are looking to explore the holistic approach to recovery.
The reason for this is because of the way that most addiction treatment centers are structured. They are actually set up to try to help people as best they possibly can, and so this means trying to use a variety of helpful therapies and recovery techniques.
People respond to treatment differently. Not everyone responds well to the same therapies. For example, some people do really well in a religious based recovery program, while others will have nothing to do with a religious solution.
Treatment centers attempt to cater to all needs by providing a varied approach. For example, they will usually try to have some sort of meditation class as part of their treatment program. So someone who is in rehab for the first time may never have been exposed to the idea of meditation before, and this could be a huge breakthrough for them in their recovery. Maybe it really helps them a lot and is thus a very important part of their recovery. This will probably not be true for every client, but it might deeply affect a small percentage of them.
The same might be true of the 12 step program. While not for everyone, some clients will probably deeply connect with the message, and get a lot out of the meetings.
Some rehabs have a physical aspect as well, and have recreation, exercise, or a gym facility connected with their rehab center. There is a definite risk/reward element at play here though because it is very easy for clients to injure or hurt themselves by pushing too hard when they need to take it easy. On the other hand, exercise is such a huge part of recovery (that nearly everyone overlooks) and so the rewards of starting people out down this path can be absolutely huge. Even taking a daily walk at a rehab can be a huge part of the holistic approach that many people would just take for granted, not believing it to help their recovery much.
The proof is in the details when it comes to holistic recovery. Every day, we make hundreds of tiny decisions that affect our lives in the long run:
What to eat.
When to sleep (and how much).
Whether to exercise or not.
Whether to smoke cigarettes or not.
How to practice spirituality.
When to meditate and reflect on things.
How much to focus on our job or career.
And so on. Thousands of tiny decisions, all of them having an impact on our long term success in recovery.
The holistic approach is a conscious decision on your part to embrace the ideas that make up holistic recovery:
1) Realize that all of it matters – Each detail is important, and the holistic approach must realize that every area of your life is actually important to your overall recovery. You cannot separate out your “spiritual life” and just focus on that while ignoring your physical health, your emotional balance, your relationships, your career, your finances, and so on.
This does not mean that you need to become overwhelmed. Instead, consider the addiction treatment approach of spending some time here and there working on improving one area of your life. When you are in rehab you have structure in place. Every Wednesday afternoon you meditate. Not a bad idea, actually! Some people think that the nutrition class at an addiction treatment center is off topic and is a waste of time. What they do not realize is that it is all important and that it all matters. Nutrition may not be of vital importance when you have two weeks sober, but you can bet that it is increasingly important as you move into long term recovery.
All of it matters, every aspect of your life. This is why the holistic approach makes a lot of sense–because it examines the “whole” person in recovery and seeks to make positive changes in every area.
2) Stay open minded toward new growth experiences – When you embrace the holistic approach to recovery, you have to stay open to new growth opportunities. This is harder to do than it sounds, because our ego likes to believe that we know what is best for us at all times.
Of course, just being in recovery proves that we overcame this ego problem at least once, and agreed that our drug or alcohol use was out of control. The holistic approach might require us to do the same thing in other areas of our lives. For example, a friend suggests that they think we are under-utilized at our current job, and that we could be doing more with our lives. Now then–get defensive or take a real look at the idea and see it as a possible springboard for new growth? The holistic approach would say that you need to be open to the idea of a new growth experience in this area of your life, even if you feel defensive about it at first.
Thus, staying open minded about everything in your life is particular empowering. By acting on criticism and using it to spur new growth, we can make progress in our recovery instead of just shutting down and stubbornly refusing to learn anything new.
3) Strive for alignment with your recovery goals – The ultimate goal of the holistic approach is not just to seek new growth experiences in all areas of our lives, but to actually start living congruently, and find growth experiences that are in alignment with each other.
What does this mean?
If you have a goal of better health and fitness, and you have another goal of relaxing by smoking cigarettes, then those two goals are NOT in alignment. They fight against each other. They are not well aligned.
On the other hand, if you have the goal of better health and fitness, and also the goal of quitting smoking, then those two goals ARE in alignment. They align well. They compliment each other.
This is a simple example but as you examine other areas of your life you may find that not all of your goals align as well as you may have thought.
For example, you may be striving for peace and serenity in your recovery, but at the same time, you may also be:
* Buying stuff to try to fill a need in your life and thus ruining your financial health.
* Seeking out chaotic relationships.
* Avoiding exercise or being lazy.
* Eating poorly.
* Continuing to smoke cigarettes when you know you should try to quit.
And so on. Many of these goals are NOT in alignment with our other positive goals in recovery.
There is no one path in goal alignment
Realize that not everyone will have the exact some experience in recovery. This is especially true when we talk about aligning our recovery goals.
For example, one person may find that minimalism becomes a huge part of their recovery philosophy and their life. Maybe they sell a lot of their stuff that they do not need or use, and thus reduce the clutter in their life. This may give them more mental and emotional freedom, by reducing clutter and baggage in their living space.
Most people would not believe that such a life philosophy could affect your ability to stay clean and sober. For some people, adopting the goal of minimalism may not have much bearing on their recovery. But for the right person, having this sort of goal may be in perfect alignment with their recovery effort.
Another good example is fitness and exercise. For some people, this goal aligns very well with their overall philosophy of recovery. They exercise vigorously and frequently, and they see this as being an absolute critical part of their healthy life in recovery. Other people may not have this same goal, but they might have other goals that align well with positive change in recovery (like meditation for example).
Maybe you have a goal to climb the corporate ladder and advance in your career. As you seek out this goal in your recovery, it may become a huge point of stress in your life, and it may even be pushing you closer to relapse. Or maybe not, maybe the pursuit of a better career really does help you to stay sober. The key is that you have to gain perspective on your goals, get really honest with yourself, and see if these goals are in alignment with each other or not.
Is your goal of career advancement helping or hurting your recovery effort?
Use treatment as a platform to analyze your goals and explore your holistic path
If you are attending rehab then use the experience as a platform to think about how you want positive change to occur in each area of your life.
Rehab can help you with this because they naturally offer guidance in most critical areas of your recovery. Most rehabs have classes on emotional health, relationships, meditation, and some even explore things such as finances and career.
Treatment offers a lot of positive suggestions. Take the ones that align well with your own recovery goals.