Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Holistic Treatments for Addiction
The incorporation of natural remedies and addiction in addiction counseling to enhance well-being with substance abusers is one of the areas in which cross-cultural perspectives has enhanced addiction medicine.
These approaches are not considered a replacement for traditional treatment, but rather an adjunct to both treatment and recovery.
Nutrition Therapy and Addiction
Research in the area of addiction counseling and treatment has shown that both alcohol and drugs interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize nutrients. For example, alcohol can impede the nutritional process by interfering with the digestion, storage, and utilization of nutrients.
Alcohol can prevent the breakdown of nutrients by impairing digestive enzymes. In addition, it stops nutrient absorption by preventing the absorption of nutrients into the blood.
Pharmaceuticals and street drugs deplete the body of essential nutrients in a similar manner. The best way to address these deficiencies is with diet and nutritional supplements.
Diet of Unprocessed Foods and Addiction
In addiction treatment research, hospital diets have been shown to be less effective in treating alcoholism than whole food diets. In one study, coffee, junk food, dairy products, and peanut butter were replaced with fruit, vegetables, and a whole foods protocol. At the six-month mark, fewer than 38% of those on the hospital diet had remained sober, compared to 81% of those eating the whole foods diet. Other research has shown that restricting sugar, increasing complex carbohydrates, and eliminating caffeine significantly reduces alcohol cravings.
The administration of a whole foods diet is standard practice in treating substance abusers who suffer from malnutrition. Substance abusers are often cross addicted to sugar, coffee, and nicotine, so some resistance to a whole foods diet is expected.
In one study, researchers place alcoholics on a raw food diet and many spontaneously avoided alcohol and tobacco. Additionally, those placed on nutrient-loaded diets along with multivitamin supplements did significantly better at abstaining from alcohol than the control group.
Herbal Medicine and Addiction Treatment
In the area of natural remedies and addiction, there are many herbs that contain beneficial properties that can help with addiction. Some of these herbs include ashwagandha, basil leaf, dandelion root, danshen, kava, kudzu, lemon balm leaf, oatstraw herb, passionflower, Saint Johns wort, skullcap, and valerian.
If you are interested in trying herbs to assist with your addiction recovery, exercise caution because some herbs may interact and inhibit the effectiveness of other medications you may be taking.
Addiction Treatment and Meditation
Meditation has been effectively incorporated as part of substance abuse rehabilitation in treatment programs. Investigators have authored several reviews of studies looking into the benefits of transcendental meditation (TM) in treating substance abuse and concluded that TM influences both psychological and physiological health with addictive behaviors. Additionally, TM has been shown to help recovering substance abusers in maintaining abstinence.
Combining drumming with meditation can also be very effective. According to Michael Winkelman, an author and expert on cross-cultural studies and addiction, shamanic drumming provides the opportunity for recovery substance abusers to have a spiritual experience with alcohol or drugs. Winkelman points out that shamanic drumming has been used successfully in a variety of treatment settings, with adolescents, teenagers, and adults.
Researchers have discovered that practices like shamanic drumming stimulate the nervous system and a brain in a similar manner to drugs, without the negative side effects.
There are a great many other forms of natural remedies and addiction that can be useful in addiction counseling. If you see an addiction treatment counselor and therapist with specialized training in nutrition, herbal medicine, and natural medicine (such as myself), you will get all the information you need to help you in your recovery from addiction.