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Why Choose A Holistic Approach To Addiction?

Posted by Dr Terry Spokes
on 28 Mar 2022


Derived from the Greek word, ‘holos’, meaning ‘whole’, holistic means “dealing with or treating the whole of something or someone and not just a part”. When used to describe a therapeutic approach, it means considering a person’s mental, emotional, social and spiritual states of health and well-being. This is especially important when it comes to treating addiction, as it addresses the physical, psychological and emotional elements of addictive behaviours, instead of just the symptoms, increasing the chance of recovery.

At Delamere, we take a holistic approach to treating alcohol addiction, drug addiction and other addictions at our purpose-built wellness retreat in Cheshire. It has always been very much part of our ethos to treat guests as individuals. Rather than having a conventional step-based approach, we look at all aspects of a person’s life. Their relationships with others, work and home environments, past traumas and personal challenges, until we can identify the underlying cause of addiction and help to rebuild lives.

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The problem with traditional addiction therapy

There have been many therapies aimed at tackling alcohol addiction and drug addiction over the years, one of the most talked about being the 12-step approach. First published in 1939 by Alcoholics Anonymous in their book, The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism, the steps are a set of guiding principles for addiction treatment. Although still widely used today, this approach has been challenged in recent years for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it encourages individuals to believe in a ‘higher power’. Whether this is God or otherwise, the person must admit they are powerless over their addiction, which fuels feelings of guilt and shame. Women tend to not do as well with this approach, as they typically respond better to psychological treatments. Adding to this, not enough emphasis is placed on the physical aspects of substance abuse, such as withdrawal, and the social aspects of group therapy can further compound mental health issues.  

The Department of Health and Social Care recently updated its clinical guidelines on the best way to treat alcohol and drug addiction, stating the need to provide patients with a range of therapeutic options (1). An article in The Guardian suggests roughly half of rehabs in the UK only offer the 12-step approach to treating addiction (2). In contrast, Delamere’s residential rehab programmes take a holistic approach from the start, offering a wide range of treatment techniques based on individual needs.

Every journey begins with addressing the physical aspects of addiction, including a clinical detox, before working on the emotional and psychological impact of substance abuse. The Delamere wellness retreat has a team of holistic therapists that deliver one-to-one counselling, group therapy sessions and multiple somatic healing experiences in a tranquil forest environment. Tailormade recovery plans mean that each guest has the best chance of remaining in lasting recovery.

The 5 benefits of holistic therapy

Traditional therapies focus on treating the physical symptoms of alcohol addiction and drug addiction using individual or group therapy. Holistic therapy goes one step further, combining evidence-based therapeutic, somatic and healing practices to nurture body and mind. By treating every aspect of the person, we can identify the triggers of addictive behaviour and develop coping mechanisms that help prevent relapse. Let’s look at some of the main benefits of holistic therapy:

1. Tailored to your exact needs

Conventional treatment methods can be very rigid in their approach. They require everyone to be at the same point of their journey. The truth is, like isn’t like that. Everyone has different reasons for their addiction, and we all need different levels of support. In your darkest hour, you might not feel like being stuck in a room full of strangers and telling them your life story. At Delamere, we have removed some of these old techniques and replaced them with a holistic therapy approach that is welcoming, compassionate and empathic.

2. Creates a healthier version of you

People struggling with alcohol addiction or drug addiction generally develop a lack of self-care. They may stop caring about their appearance, neglect personal hygiene, skip meals or stop exercising. These are all things that contribute to mental and physical decline. Holistic therapy can help to you to heal all aspects of your life to promote a better recovery. Simple things like getting your body back in shape through exercise and eating the right foods can give you the strength to cope with the challenge of sobriety.

3. Treats your whole self  

Addiction is rarely a lone beast. It often comes with, or is a by-product of, other illnesses, whether mental or physical. For instance, someone living with chronic pain might develop depression or become dependent on prescription painkillers. Often health problems are interlinked and, by understanding the person as a whole, we can reduce the overall impact. When guests come to stay at Delamere wellness retreat, we prescribe whatever they need to support their recovery, from nutritional supplements to exercise.

4. Teaches new coping mechanisms

Holistic therapy centres on using multiple techniques for coping with stress, which is a common trigger for addictive behaviour. By introducing people to new tactics that are easily accessible and affordable, it’s more likely they will continue to use them independently after their time in rehab. At Delamere, we introduce our guests to a variety of new and innovative healing techniques that they can use at home to support their recovery. We are located in the peaceful surroundings of Delamere forest, which gives everyone a chance to connect with nature and find sustainable ways to destress.

5. Reduces the risk of relapse

Another benefit of holistic therapy is its ability to prevent relapse. Many holistic techniques, such as mindfulness and guided relaxation, have been shown to be effective in quietening anxious thoughts that trigger addictive behaviour. Emerging evidence suggests mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can target the neurological functions triggered by substance use disorders and help prevent relapse (3). At Delamere, we incorporate these practices into our residential rehab programmes to give our guests tools to cope in the outside world.

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How can Delamere’s holistic approach help you?

Delamere wellness retreat has developed a unique three-step holistic therapy approach to addiction that allows us to provide the very best care. Our residential wellness programmes are person centric. We listen to each guest’s unique story and build a solution to suit their individual needs.

Stop. In the first stage of recovery, we give you time to physically stop craving drugs or alcohol with a medically assisted detox. You will have your own ensuite room surrounded by nature to offer the privacy you need to withdraw safely and comfortably. Time is a great healer. We give you the space to recuperate at your own pace.

Start. We use a wide range of therapeutic treatments to help you pinpoint the reason behind your addiction, understand what is triggering it and develop tools to cope. Our holistic therapists use traditional methods, such as one-to-one counselling and group therapy sessions, as well as access to a range of complementary therapies, including breathwork, grounding techniques, meditation, art therapy, dance, music and equine facilitated psychotherapy.

Grow. Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Our aim is to help you develop as a person and grow beyond addiction. Every guest who leaves our care has a ‘future-proof’ plan for their recovery and access to 12 months of ongoing support. We will make sure you are ready to return to life fully rejuvenated, confident and empowered.

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References

1. Clinical Guidelines on Drug Misuse and Dependence Update 2017 Independent Expert Working Group (2017) Drug misuse and dependence: UK guidelines on clinical management. London: Department of Health.

2. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/dec/04/12-steps-addiction-cure-quasi-religious

3. Sarah E Priddy, Matthew O Howard, Adam W Hanley, Michael R Riquino, Katarina Friberg-Felsted, Eric L Garland Mindfulness meditation in the treatment of substance use disorders and preventing future relapse: neurocognitive mechanisms and clinical implicati.




About the author: Dr Terry Spokes

Dr Terry Spokes, Outcomes Director and Head of Recovery. Terry, a clinical psychologist tracks outcomes here at Delamere and heads up our therapy team.



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