Addiction affects more people than most of us truly know. In 2011, there were around 20.6 million people in the US, over the age of 12, with an addiction.
Let’s put it this way, roughly ONE IN TEN Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Only 11% of those ever receive any addiction treatment.
Keep in mind, that doesn’t even cover the biggest killer of them all, tobacco/nicotine use. An estimated 22% of US citizens are current cigarette smokers.
Shocking, isn’t it?
With those kinds of statistics, it’s easy to see the importance of addiction treatment.
Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options
There is no simple solution to an addiction problem, and it’s rarely as easy as just detoxing and discontinuing use.
Rehab centers are typically what come to mind when considering addiction treatment options.
What do these facilities typically use when treating drug and alcohol abuse?
Likely aspects to programs might include support groups, behavioral therapy, individual psychotherapy, and of course medicine.
While all of these are important features in addiction treatment, successful recovery isn’t just about changing behavior and medicating away the symptoms.
In recent years, addiction treatment professionals have been turning to a more holistic approach.
Holistic Intervention in Addiction Treatment
Most people have heard the term “holistic,” but it is often misunderstood. Particularly when it comes to addiction treatment.
“That’s hippie stuff!”
That sentiment is a common misconception when people hear the word “holistic.” So, what exactly does a holistic approach to addiction treatment entail?
As a general rule, holistic rehab treatments look at a complete physical, mental and spiritual model for treating alcohol and drug abuse.
Some types of holistic options include:
- Chiropractic care
- Yoga and meditation
- Herbal medicines
- Acupuncture and acupressure
- Biofeedback and neurofeedback
- Nutritional therapy
This is just a small sampling of holistic treatments. What binds them together is the intention to treat the wHOLe individual instead of focusing only on a single element such as behavioral therapy or medicine.
A truly effective program must address all aspects of a person, including the underlying issues which led to the addiction originally.
Physical Therapy: An important part of holistic recovery
Not mentioned above, and something that many do not consider when thinking of addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery is physical therapy.
It can be an extremely effective addition to any addiction treatment program.
The Benefits of Physical Therapy
Our bodies have extremely negative reactions to alcohol and drug abuse. It leaves people weak and often lethargic. It can also lead to various forms of disease.
Combined with initial detoxification and a program, like a 12 step, behavioral therapy, etc, physical therapy provides an important layer to successful recovery and prevention of relapse.
Without a strong body, addiction has a much easier chance of taking hold on a recovering patient.
Think of a time when you were very sick.
Did you feel sluggish? Did you have a lack of energy?
If it lasted any length of time, you may have found yourself in poor physical condition.
Were you happy? Were you productive? Were you motivated?
This is the same problem for drug and alcohol addicts. Physical therapy give the addict a healthy, positive method to recover physically and begin to lead a healthy lifestyle.
This is an important factor in creating lasting sobriety and avoiding “falling off the wagon.”
Opioid Abuse and Physical Therapy
Sadly, one of the fastest growing issues in America is prescription opioid abuse.
As reported by the US. Center for behavioral Health Statistics and Quality Data Review the number of accidental overdose deaths from prescription opioids has more than quadrupling since 1999.
Over 2 million people are estimated to be addicted to painkillers. It has developed into an epidemic.
The path from pain to pills is a dangerous one, leading to non-medical abuse and increasingly to heroin addiction.
Managing Pain to Prevent Addiction and Relapse
This spike in opioid abuse has led to an important related discussion dealing with non-drug related pain treatments.
For those who have had injuries, or surgery, or other forms of physical trauma, it may be necessary to use painkillers to aid in recovery. Unfortunately, this is the most common way people become addicted.
Physical therapy can be an effective way to manage pain without, or at least minimal, use of prescription drugs.
Even the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has been urging health care providers to reduce the use of drugs for pain, in favor of safer alternatives including physical therapy. And the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has recognized PT as a possible wall against abuse.
Physical therapy pain management is an excellent method to help prevent opioid abuse before it even happens!
The High: Physical Therapy Feels Good
Physical therapy, exercise, and other holistic methods provide addicts with many benefits.
Besides just pain relief, physical therapy releases endorphins in the body which simulate the types of feelings produced by actual drug use.
These positive biochemicals help produce a sense of calm and wellness that is vital to both physical and mental health.
Addicts who receive physical therapy and exercise as a part of their recovery program are much more likely to complete their programs, as well as avoid relapse.
A Healthy Life After Addiction Treatment
Years of drug abuse can lead to a tremendous regression in a body and mind.
Addicts in recovery using physical therapy not only feel stronger, they ARE stronger.
This helps a person develop the state of mind needed to have a successful recovery, giving them a strong body and healthy mind. It provides a true sense of confidence and independence.
These benefits will hopefully lead to a new way of life for the addict, looking to themselves and not to drugs for their personal wellness.
Physical therapy and exercise can fill that gap that the addicts feels once they are free of their substance abuse, and help give them a bright and healthy future.