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Holistic Approaches to Teen Rehab: What to Expect

Group of teens sitting together smiling and laughing at school  

As the parent of a teenager with a drug or alcohol use problem, you want the best for your child. Choosing to get help at a rehab for teens is an excellent first step, but what you may not realize is that you have options when it comes to choosing the best type of approach for your child. Over the last few years, a holistic approach to rehab for all ages has been in demand in the United States.

Holistic drug rehab may use both traditional forms of therapy and alternative approaches to teen drug abuse. However, a holistic treatment program doesn’t focus on just the substance misuse issue — it treats the individual’s mind, body, emotional state and spiritual needs too.

What Is Holistic Treatment?

The word “holistic” describes working with the whole something instead of part of it, and that’s exactly what holistic treatment for drug addiction does. Instead of just focusing on teens and drugs or their relationship with drugs, it focuses on healing a person’s whole self. There may be mental, physical, cultural, social or emotional reasons why a teen misuses a substance. Holistic therapy aims to address all of these facets and get to the root of the problem, not just treat it at the surface.

Because there are so many different types of interventions that can help meet an individual’s varying needs, every treatment program may utilize different approaches to providing holistic treatment. Holistic teen rehabs might take place in inpatient or residential settings, where the teen lives in a secure facility for a set amount of time. Intensive outpatient programs often allow teens to go to school and live at a rehab facility or at home while also attending multiple longer treatment sessions every week. In basic outpatient rehab programs, a teen might meet for group or individual counseling sessions a few times per week.

Holistic teen rehabs may also use different types of therapy, including standard options like cognitive behavioral, motivational enhancement or family systems therapies. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. It’s important to discuss the options with trained professionals who can help you determine which may best match your teen’s needs and interests.

Just keep in mind that not all holistic treatment centers offer the same activities and options. Some common types of holistic therapy you might find include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Reflexology
  • Massage therapy
  • Mindfulness techniques, like meditation or prayer
  • Yoga
  • Music and art therapy
  • Nutritional programs
  • Exercise and movement therapies
  • Animal-assisted therapy

When you look for a holistic treatment facility, you may notice other terms  like “alternative treatment” or “complementary therapy.” Complementary therapies work in tandem with traditional therapies, like adding therapies like acupuncture or yoga to a comprehensive treatment plan. Alternative therapy usually means replacing traditional therapy methods with a non-mainstream practice.

How Holistic Teen Treatment Ties into Traditional Therapy

Holistic addiction treatment has the potential to be especially effective when it’s used alongside traditional therapy methods. It can improve an individual’s chances of enjoying lifelong healing from substance use disorder. While it doesn’t replace the need for traditional forms of therapy, it provides teens with extra tools to help them pursue long-term recovery and sobriety.

These tools can serve as coping mechanisms for stress, help kids deal with the physical symptoms associated with withdrawals and help make general health a top priority, even beyond teen drug rehab.

Benefits of the Whole-Person Approach

Holistic healing, or the whole-person approach, offers many benefits to teens and their families. Not only does it increase the diversity of rehab programs available to those with substance use disorders, but, according to the University of North Carolina, it can also provide improved patient satisfaction and better outcomes.

Because holistic programs are so individualized and can meet multiple unique needs at once, they can be more effective. For example, a teen who has social anxiety may feel more supported when attending one-on-one counseling instead of group therapy. A teen who is creative may appreciate programs with expressive arts components like music or painting therapy. Holistic therapy can help people connect with their treatment goals in ways and on levels that resonate more with their interests and personalities.

When a teen who completes a holistic program reenters the community, he or she might try yoga instead of alcohol as an outlet for stress. Meditation may help with self-awareness for teens, and art therapy has the potential to motivate positive behaviors and provide a healthy outlet for self-expression. If your child is dealing with a co-occuring mental disorder, a holistic approach can be an effective option for treatment.

What Should I Expect from a Holistic Treatment Center?

When you choose a holistic addiction treatment center for your teen, you should expect an individualized plan tailored specifically to your child’s needs. The center will likely offer a variety of holistic healing therapies, like yoga, art therapy, and animal-assisted therapy, in addition to traditional therapy methods, like group therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

The trip to an inpatient treatment center typically starts with a detox period so your child can safely rid their body of any remaining substances. After detox, each patient receives a daily schedule that can include both traditional and holistic substance abuse treatments and therapies. When your child completes rehab, an aftercare plan should be created. This means your child will continue participating in both traditional and holistic treatments to help keep them healthy and substance-free.

Before choosing a treatment center, consider visiting the facility and talking with the professionals there. Ask the following questions to determine if the center is right for your child:

  • What does the treatment involve? What different therapies are available?
  • What are the schedule, cost, and length of the program?
  • What skills will my teen learn? Who teaches those skills and what are their credentials?
  • What does my teen need to do to complete the program?
  • How does this program differ from others you’re considering?

Alternative & Complementary Holistic Techniques

The teen rehab center you choose for your child may offer any number of alternative and complementary holistic techniques for fighting substance use disorders. Take a look at some of the most popular options and how they may help your teen through recovery:

  • Guided meditation for teens: Meditation or prayer may help relieve stress and retrain the mind.
  • Medical nutrition therapy: Focusing on teen nutrition can help promote overall health and help restore the body to its pre-substance misuse state.
  • Animal-assisted therapy: Animal programs, such as equestrian therapy for children, help kids think about the world beyond themselves by caring for and working with animals.
  • Acupuncture and massage: Physical therapies, like acupuncture and massage, may ease the pain of withdrawal symptoms and help reduce anxiety.
  • Exercise: Physical activity can help both the mind and the body, improve sleeping habits and increase self-esteem.
  • Yoga: Practicing yoga may help relieve stress.
  • Art Therapy: Therapy involving art and music may help teens find new ways to express themselves, encourage new social interactions and motivate positive changes in behavior.

Finding a Holistic Program for Your Teen

No two teenagers are alike, no two substance use disorders are alike and no two holistic programs are alike. If you and your child are ready to start a holistic recovery from addiction, contact Next Generation Village today. We can help you find the right treatment program, including inpatient care, outpatient rehab, and relapse prevention, specifically for your teen.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


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