Alternative Treatments for Drug Addiction

Complementary and Alternative Therapy

Complementary and alternative therapies for the treatment of drug addiction are becoming increasingly popular and many are now being integrated within manstream rehab programs.

Hypnotherapists claim they can help die hard smokers kick the habit and some practioners have gone so far as to claim success with alcoholism and even heroin addiction. Hypnosis works by unlocking deep, possibly long buried thoughts which may be at the root of the addiction. By confronting those thoughts, practioners claim, the addict is well on the road to recovery.

The evidence of the success of various alternative treatments is largely anecdotal. But it's widely acknowledged that, when used as part of a broader treatment regime, they can be highly effective in helping addicts deal with both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Many detox and rehab centers incorporate natural therapies into their programs on the basis that a calm, relaxed body and mind is more in control and better able to cope with withdrawal.

Acupuncture, in particular, has had a great deal of reported success among smokers and alcoholics. It's used in many drug and detox centers to bring about harmony of body and mind by unblocking energy pathways in the body. A trial conducted by Yale University showed that cocaine addicts who received acupuncture were less likely to take the drug during treatment.

Herbal therapy has longed been used in detoxification. The "miracle vine" kudzu is commonly used to treat alcoholism and other plants, such as kava and valerian, are recommended by herbalists for the treatment of insomnia which often accompanies withdrawal. Researchers have found that ginseng can block the analgesic effects of opiods and lessen dependence on morphine. And passion flowers have been successfully used in anxiety management of heroin addicts.

There are many types of meditation and yoga which can help an addict cope with withdrawal by reducing anxiety and promoting inner peace. Kundalini yoga, involving very intense meditative breathing, chanting and movement, was found by research scientists at the University of California to be useful in treating people with various addictions. It improved concentration, reduced depression and anxiety and promoted a deep sense of calm.

More Alternative Treatments of Drug Addiction

The sense of control and peace induced by yoga can help addicts deal with their cravings and agitation. And the practice of "mindful living" (when a person becomes intensely aware of what is going on inside them and around them) can be useful in teaching an addict how to face up to life's difficulties and challenges instead of hiding from them in a drug or alcohol induced haze.

Another Far Eastern therapy is called Qi Gong ­ (Qi means life and gong means work) which involves a series of gentle exercises focusing on breathing, visualisation and meditation. In a study in China involving 86 male heroin addicts going through withdrawal, those practising Qi Gong experienced less anxiety and a shorter withdrawal period than those relying solely on detoxification medicines.

When it comes to dealing with chemical imbalances in the body, caused by either short or long term addiction, nutritional therapy can be helpful. Depending on the type of addiction, supplements such as herbs and vitamins can restore the proper biochemical balance in the brain. Coupled with the elimination of certain starches and sugars and an increased intake of proteins, this treatment can help to repair the damage caused by the addictive substance.


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