Holistic Recovery Options;
Holistic approaches to addiction and alcoholism can be of great assistance throughout the stages of recovery. From detoxification to reducing stress and improving mental and physical well being, holistic approaches play a vital role in regaining personal balance.
For the recovering addict, holistic approaches should be accompanied by a professional treatment plan but can be effective well beyond the initial recovery phase.
Recent scientific studies have demonstrated dramatically improved success rates with the addition of holistic treatment approaches.
Part of a holistic approach to recovery includes being in nature. Finding a safe, serene and natural environment can refresh the soul and provide the opportunity to pursue whatever form of spirituality moves you.
Acupuncture is a part of East Asian medicine developed in China over 2,500 years ago and currently practiced throughout Asia, Europe and the United States. Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the surface of the body for the purpose of stimulating healing.
Academy of Medical Acupuncture
A physician-only professional acupuncture society. Their site provides a medical acupuncturist referral service located by state or area code as well as general information and research on acupuncture.
National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)
There are approximately 20,000-25,000 licensed acupuncturists in practice in the U.S. and over 60 accredited programs. The NCCAOM currently provides licensing exams in 43 states. Those interested in locating a qualified, credentialed provider can use the Find a Practitioner feature on this site. Searches can be done by practitioner’s last name, zip code, city, area code or state.
Bier ID, Wilson J, Studt P, Shakleton M. “Auricular acupuncture, education, and smoking cessation: a randomized, sham-controlled trial.” Am J Public Health. 2002 Oct;92(10):1642-7. Acupuncture alone or in combination with education was studied for its effect on smoking cessation in 141 adults. Acupuncture and education, alone and in combination, significantly reduce smoking; however, combined they show a significantly greater effect in those who smoked more for a longer number of years.
Avants SK. Margolin A. Holford TR. Kosten TR. “A randomized controlled trial of auricular acupuncture for cocaine dependence.” Archives of Internal Medicine. 160(15):2305-12, 2000. This study was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of auricular acupuncture for the treatment of cocaine addiction. Patients who received acupuncture in this study were significantly more likely to test free of cocaine at the end of the eight week treatment period. Researchers concluded that acupuncture shows promise for the treatment of cocaine abuse and should be further studied.
Acupuncture is currently used in many drug treatment facilities or can be part of a self-help program for recovery.
Animal-assisted therapy is being used in a wide variety of settings to help people with acute and chronic illnesses. This is based on the many physical and psychological benefits seen in patients when they interact with animals. These include lowered blood pressure and heart rate, increased beta-endorphin levels (a hormone produced by the brain and nervous system that reduces pain), decreased stress levels, reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension and anxiety, improved social functioning, and increased feelings of empowerment, trust, patience and self-esteem. Animal therapy is looked upon as both a learning and healing experience.
Pet Partners is a leading international resource for the human-animal bond and its relationship to improving human health. Their web site provides information on animal-assisted therapy, a wide variety of articles on the health benefits for different groups of people, volunteer opportunities and training information.
Therapet Animal Assisted Therapy Foundation
This non-profit organization works to facilitate the use of animals in the healing and rehabilitation of acute and chronically ill individuals. The web site discusses the nature and benefits of animal-assisted therapy, their training programs and seminars, and books and videos on the topic.
Equine-assisted therapy at addiction treatment center
Equine-assisted therapy has been around for a long time. It was originally started as a therapy for people with physical disabilities and developmental disorders and has been successfully used as part of the treatment for various psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders as well. People recovering from addiction have also been found to benefit from interactions with horses. This type of outdoor therapy experience combines the power of nature with the benefit of forming a relationship with an animal to help build confidence, trust, patience, and self-esteem.
Residential Treatment Centers offering Equine Therapy:
Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from plants and herbs that can be inhaled or applied through the skin. Aromas derived from these natural plant sources have been shown in clinical studies to have positive effects on the mind and the body. These essential oils, which are composed of naturally occurring chemicals, can help to support emotional balance, a sense of calm, stress relief, and feelings of well-being.
This informative web site contains an Article Archive with over 80 articles covering an explanation of aromatherapy, its history, ingredients, safety, storage and much more. Also available are detailed profiles on 110 essential oils. Aromatherapy can be used to lessen symptoms such as anxiety, depression and insomnia that often complicate drug recovery. Click on “Oil Profiles” on the left-hand menu and choose “Essential Oils for Emotional Well-Being” for a description of specific oils that address these needs. Oils can be purchased directly online at this web site.
Biofeedback is a scientific way of learning how to reduce tension. Biofeedback practitioners use instruments to give a person immediate feedback about the level of tension in their body. People practicing biofeedback often say they gain psychological confidence when they learn they can control their physical reactions. Biofeedback has been found effective in several aspects of addiction treatment.
BCIA Board Certified practitioners can be located at the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA) website or The Assoc1ation for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) website .
Scott WC, Kaiser D, Othmer S, et al. “Effects of an EEG Biofeedback Protocol on a Mixed Substance Abusing Population.” Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2005; 31(3): 455-469.
This study from UCLA examined whether an EEG biofeedback improved outcome measures for a mixed 120 patients with substance use problems. an inpatient substance abuse program were randomly assigned to the EEG biofeedback or control group. Patients who received biofeedback remained in treatment significantly longer and 77% were abstinent at 12 months compared to 44% of patients who didn’t receive biofeedback one year following treatment.
Stewart SH, Kushner MG. “Introduction to the special issue on “Anxiety Sensitivity and Addictive Behaviors.” Addictive Behaviors. 26(6): 775-785, 2001.
Anxiety sensitivity (AS) is characterized by a fear of arousal-related bodily sensations that are interpreted as signs of impending catastrophe on physical, psychological, or social levels. AS has been linked to increased risk for the development of panic attacks, anxiety disorders and more recently to substance use disorders. AS is thought to increase drug withdrawal severity and to lower tolerance for withdrawal symptoms.
Biofeedback is a technique that is used to treat the type of anxiety sensitivity described above.
Brain wave biofeedback (also called neurofeedback) is a therapy in which patients learn to change their brain wave patterns. Changing brainwaves can have a beneficial effect on relaxation and reduce stress and its unhealthy impact on brain and nervous system. In one type of neurofeedback the training involves normalization of alpha and theta brain waves which are disturbed by long term substance abuse. Brainwave Biofeedback has shown dramatic success in several studies in preventing relapses from drug and alcohol addiction. This very promising treatment can be more fully understood by Reading "Effects of an EEG Biofeedback Protocol on a Mixed Substance Abusing Population" and"Effects of Neurofeedback on Chemical Dependency Treatment" by Scott WC, Kaiser D, Othmer S, Sideroff SI.
Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA)
BCIA certifies practitioners in both biofeedback and neurofeedback. Their site provides an updated register of certified practitioners. Under Find a Practitioner in the top menu bar, you can do a Practitioner Search by name of the practitioner, city, state, or zip code. The letters BCIA after a name means the practitioner is certified in General Biofeedback. The letters BCN after a name means the practitioner is certified in EEG Biofeedback (or Neurofeedback). In addition information is given on disorders treated by biofeedback and the different types of biofeedback.
This site provides a good introduction to neurofeedback (EEG biofeedback) including its applications to various health conditions. In the "Find a Provider" section of the site you can locate by state a therapist or practitioner who has been trained in neurofeedback at the EEG Spectrum Institute.
CENTERS OFFERING BRAINWAVE BIOFEEDBACK
Offers a wide range of therapeutic services including neurofeedback and acupuncture. See our Residential Treatment section for information on this Center.
Connection of Tampa
Specializes in the treatment of impaired professionals. Their program is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, behavioral modification and other psychotherapeutic approaches, and innovative techniques such as neurofeedback and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
RESEARCH: Trudeau DL. “The treatment of addictive disorders by brain wave biofeedback: a review and suggestions for future research.” Clinical Electroencephalography. 31(1): 13-22, 2000. In small clinical trials and case studies, specific EEG aberrations in substance abuse disorders have been noted, including very specific abnormalities likely associated with drug neurotoxicity. This suggests the possibility that specific EEG biofeedback protocols may be studied for their effect on these conditions.
These EEG documented changes are further proof that addiction is an illness of the brain.
This is a small device with electrode clips that are attached to the ear lobes. It emits an alpha frequency that is very calming, gradually entraining the brain into a calm sense of ease. Unlike bio-feedback which requires effort on the part of the patient, this small device essentially “does the work for you”, but at the same time, enables you to recognize the correct, calming pattern of brain waves so that you can practice getting there yourself.
The creative therapies can be very helpful in the process of recovery from addiction. They offer the opportunity to get in touch with the inner self and with the higher power and can provide a form of expression for feelings that cannot be easily identified or put into words. Through helping the person with an addiction connect with his/her more authentic self, the expressive therapies can help raise self-esteem and provide an opportunity to create new experiences beyond habitual and painful emotional patterns. The creative arts foster a renewed ability to relax without drugs or alcohol.
American Art Therapy Association (AATA)
Learn about the process of art therapy, who benefits and how to become an art therapist. Click on Find-A-therapist on the home page for a directory by state and top cities in the US.
Guide through the 12 Steps
This blog page offers specific instructions for using creative arts projects as a supplement to working the 12 steps. It suggests activities and projects for both groups and individuals that address the meaning of various steps in the 12-step program.
Adriana Marchione, MA, CHT, specializes in working with recovery from all forms of addiction. Her work offers creative healing opportunities that complement psychotherapy and twelve-step programs. Her approach draws from a movement-based expressive arts therapy model and Depth Hypnosis - a method of hypnotherapy that utilizes hypnosis, meditation and shamanic techniques. Through individual and group sessions this therapeutic approach uses a variety of methods to support emotional and physical health, creative growth and a deeper connection to life. Recovery groups and retreats are also available offering participants the opportunity to express their stories in words, images and movement both in the studio and in natural surroundings.
National Coalition of Arts Therapies Associations
Founded in 1979, this coalition brings together the professional associations dedicated to the advancement of six creative arts therapies. Their web site provides basic information on each approach: art, dance/movement, drama, music, psychodrama and poetry. Each modality uses the creative process to support health, communication, self-expression, and positive change.
American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA)
Provides information on the field of dance therapy including its philosophy, training and credentials, and research. In the left menu bar click on Find a Dance/Movement Therapist to search by state or country.
National Association for Drama Therapy (NADT)
Describes the process of drama therapy, educational qualifications for therapists and a list of books, films and articles. Click on Find a Drama Therapist in the top menu bar to find therapists in the U.S. and Canada.
Therapy Association (AMTA)
Explains the practice and applications of music therapy. Click on Find a Music Therapist in the left menu bar for an online directory for different health conditions including Substance Abuse, geographical locations and more.
Drumming can be a simple yet powerful way to enhance recovery. Medical research shows that it can slow down brain wave cycles, enhancing theta-wave production and brain wave synchronization. This is important as addicts often have brain wave abnormalities as explained in our section on brain wave biofeedback.
Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT)
Poetry therapy is the intentional use of the written and spoken word for healing and personal growth. Their web site provides links to poetry sites and training and education information. Click on Resources and then select NAPT members to find the websites of NAPT members.
30 Minute Mandalas
This combination of quieting the mind and coloring has been found helpful for those dealing with anxiety and other recovery issues. The web site offers 2-3 free mandalas to download and color, with new downloads available every month or so.
A coloring site designed for adults and older children. You can color on screen or print out the unusual designs for a calming experience.
Herbs are natural plant substances that have a variety of effects on the body. Many herbs have long been used in detoxification. Kudzu has the potential for moderating alcohol abuse. Kava and valerian can be used to treat the insomnia that accompanies withdrawal. Milk thistle has been shown to improve liver function.
The use of herbs in the recovery process may be most effective when combined with other strategies that support the whole person including nutrition, bodywork, acupuncture, relaxation and exercise.
Click here to learn more about herbal medicine from the University of Maryland.
MedlinePlus, developed by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, offers a section on 103 commonly used Herbs and Supplements covering background, evidence, dosing, safety, and interactions.
University of Maryland Herbal Database
You can search by herb and learn about its uses, how to take it, side effects and possible interactions on 64 of the most commonly used herbs.
This web site is dedicated to helping people manage their addiction to opiate pain killers. It offers an organic herbal/vitamin supplement designed to help relieve withdrawal symptoms, a blog on opiate addiction and the top ten reasons to stop taking pain killers.
Nutrition supplements, vitamins and herbs can be purchased online through various web sites such as Whole Health Products at www.wholehealthproducts.com, Integrative Therapeutics at www.integrativeinc.com and Vitamin Shoppe at www.vitaminshoppe.com.
RESEARCH: Takahashi M, Toduyama S. “Pharmacological and physiological effects of ginseng on actions induced by opioids and psychostimulants.” Methods & Findings in Experimental & Clinical Pharmacology. 20(1): 77-84, 1998.
This review summarizes studies that looked at the effects of ginseng on the actions of opioids and psychostimulants. Among the findings, ginseng was able to block the analgesic effects of opioids and inhibit tolerance to and dependence on morphine. Findings provide evidence that ginseng may be useful clinically for the prevention and treatment of morphine, cocaine, and methamphetamine dependence.
Akhondzadeh S. Kashani L, et al. "Passionflower in the treatment of opiates withdrawal: a double-blind randomized controlled trial." Journal of Clinical Pharmacy & Therapeutics. 26(5):369-73, 2001.
Clonidine-based therapies are used to treat the physical symptoms of withdrawal during opiate detoxification, but have not effectively addressed associated mental symptoms such as anxiety. The herbal extract Passionflower has been successfully used in the management of anxiety, and in this study the use of a daily dose of 60 drops of passionflower extract with a maximum daily dose of 0.8 mg of clonidine showed a significant superiority over clonidine alone in the management of mental symptoms associated with detoxification.
May be most effective when used in conjunction with other strategies that support the whole person including nutrition, bodywork, acupuncture, relaxation and exercise.
Bach’s Remedies are based on flowering plants. They’re similar to the Passionflower treatment above and include several other remedies. These are available without prescriptions in organic health food/”vitamin” stores and online. Purchase through a private store will often provide the added benefit of being able to consult with staff who are more knowledgeable in the given area, possibly with nutritionists who work on site in the store.
Homeopathy is a non-toxic, gentle system of medicine that uses highly-diluted remedies to treat illness and relieve discomfort in a wide variety of health conditions. It is thought that homeopathic remedies are able to stimulate a person’s bodily systems to deal with stress and illness more efficiently. Research is currently being undertaken to understand how and why these remedies work on the mental and physical level. Specific homeopathic remedies may be helpful during the period of withdrawal from alcohol or drugs.
Homeopathy is practiced by licensed physicians and other qualified prescribers in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and the U.S. While self-care with homeopathy can be helpful for minor short-term illnesses and injuries, if an illness or condition is chronic or serious, it is best to consult an experienced prescriber for a remedy that more accurately meets an individual’s health needs. Homeopathic remedies can also be purchased in private stores as with Bach’s Remedies above.
Provides a good introduction to homeopathy and a free online homeopathic remedy finder which includes the full Kent's Repertory, a database of 650 homeopathic remedies and 64,000 symptom descriptions. There is a secure e-commerce online store for purchase of remedies.
Hypnosis is a calm natural state of focused attention, which can be produced by the self or a therapist. From that state, the mind is especially receptive to ideas and suggestions compatible with the person's goals. Some people have found hypnosis to be a useful part of a total recovery program.
American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH)
The ASCH site provides general information on hypnotherapy, its benefits and medical uses, and guidance in how to select a qualified hypnotherapist. Under Public, Member Referral Search, you can search for practitioner by location (state/province) and/or by specialty such as Addictions.
Imagery involves the use of the imagination to achieve specific healing and life goals. It can be effective in helping people cope with stress and regain a sense of control and well-being. As with all other mind/body techniques, interest, motivation and practice are keys to the successful use of imagery for health and healing.
Alcohol and Other Drugs (audiotape) Created by Belleruth Naparstek, a pioneer in guided imagery, this audiotape is designed to reduce addictive craving and the discomfort of withdrawal, teach new relaxation skills, and reinforce positive behavior change. Tapes can be ordered by telephone (1-800-800-8661), online or by mail.
Writing in a personal journal is an excellent tool for self reflection, charting your progress, recording your daily experiences and thoughts, and identifying your goals, habit patterns, conflicts and gratitudes. It can help you express your thoughts and explore and clarify any issues you may be dealing with in a private way.
Journal Me Now
This site lets you keep your daily inventory online and provides a place to journal that is password protected. The journal will prompt you with questions to ask yourself and help you see if there are areas you need to work on. It keeps track of your responses and lets you know if your score is slipping in any area, helping you recognize that you may need to talk to your sponsor or an accountability partner. The site is free for the first 30 days, then $10 per month or $100 for a year subscription.
Massage and bodywork address the mind/body/spirit, offering the possibility of healing and change on many levels. On a physical level it can facilitate the release of tension and holding and improve energy balance and flow. It also offers the opportunity to explore deeper levels of relaxation and peace, greater self-acceptance and awareness, and a deeper connection to self and others.
Taking Charge of your Health & Wellbeing
Developed by the Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota, this website answers many questions about massage, the different types, its benefits, how it helps, how it work, how to find a therapist and much more.
There are many different types of meditation which all work to slow down the chatter of the mind and promote relaxation and mental clarity.
Talks given by Gil Fronsdal, and other Vipassana and Zen teachers at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California.
Center for Mind Body Medicine
Belly Breathing audio exercise.
This web site was developed by David Shannahoff-Khalsa, a research scientist at the University of California, San Diego who specializes in treating psychiatric disorders with Kundalini Yoga. He has developed a protocol using Kundalini Yoga meditation to treat obsessive compulsive disorders and addiction. These techniques can also help improve mental concentration and mental stability, reduce anxiety and depression, and promote a deep sense of inner peace. The protocol uses unique intense active meditative breathing, chanting, and movement techniques (all while sitting in a chair), and is available for purchase on videotape on his web site.
In addition, Dr. Shannahoff-Khalsa has written an article describing a specific Kundalini Yoga meditation technique for treating addictive disorders that is available full text online.
Shannahoff-Khalsa DS. "An introduction to Kundalini yoga meditation techniques that are specific for the treatment of psychiatric disorders." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Volume 10, Number 1, 2004, pp. 91-101.
This has the potential to be very helpful in reducing the obsessive thinking and cravings that often lead to relapse.
Relaxation and Stress Reduction mindfulness and relaxation audio files.
Ohio State University Center for Integrative Health and
A wide selection of well done audio recordings on mindfulness, relaxation response, and guided imagery.
Oxford Mindfulness Centre
Guided Mindfulness Meditation Video - In this simple audio/video Prof. Mark Williams introduces the concept of mindfulness and leads viewers through a short guided meditation.
Vietnamese Zen Master Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk, poet, scholar, and human rights activist. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960's, he has been living in exile in France since 1969 because of his positions on peace during the Vietnamese War. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches the art of mindful living (to be deeply aware in the present moment of what is going on within and around us). While the abuse of drugs or alcohol can be a way of running from life by trying to forget one's difficulties and challenges, mindfulness is the opposite. It improves one's ability to cope with life by teaching how to be present with whatever is going on without getting overwhelmed or disturbed by it.
The web site lists monastic retreats in various locations around the world, many in the U.S. (click on Visiting Us in the top navigation bar), a blog, audio talks, mindfulness principles, and a directory of communities that regularly practice mindfulness together, organized by state in the U.S. and by country internationally.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
The site describes the TM program, its health benefits, and the extensive research that has been done on TM. An online locator is provided in order to find the closest Maharishi Vedic University, College, School or Center where the TM technique is taught or you can call toll free at 1-888-532-7686.
Mindfulness meditations from 3 minutes to 12 minutes that can be downloaded to mp3 files as well. The Windows clock at the bottom of the page has a gong/bell that is very soothing.
Online Meditation Center
Simple written instruction for eight different types of meditation including healing, centering, relaxation, and mindfulness meditation are provided online. Also includes online meditation mp3’s, 20 meditation tips video and more.
RESEARCH: Taub E, Steiner SS, Weingarten E, Walton KG. “Effectiveness of broad spectrum approaches to relapse prevention in severe alcoholism: a long-term, randomized, controlled trial of Transcendental Meditation, EMG biofeedback and electronic neurotherapy.” Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. 11(1-2): 187-220, 1994. Large improvements in relapse prevention were seen with the addition of Transcendental Meditation (TM) or EMG biofeedback to the routine treatment program in an alcohol residential treatment facility. Complete abstinence 18 months after leaving the center was reported by 65% of the TM group and 55% of the biofeedback group compared to 25% of the standard care group and 28% for the neurotherapy group.
The long-term positive effects of TM, in particular, seem to be correlated with a reduced relapse rate. TM may not only reduce tension and anxiety, but also enhance a sense of control in anxiety-provoking situations that strengthens the long-term resistance to stress.
It should also be noted that there are many ways to achieve a meditative state of mind. For those who have trouble sitting quietly for periods of time, various movement practices and martial arts, such as t’ai chi, qigong, and karate, can also focus and calm the mind and enhance feelings of self-confidence and self-worth.
Self-help relaxation strategies are an effective option to support personal change and reduce stress - and as such can play an important role in addiction recovery. Below are some examples of practical self-help Apps for those in addiction recovery and those feeling stressed out:
Discover Yourself Inc.
iOS $3.99iOS Free Lite Version
Developed by psychotherapist Ronit Herzfeld, this tool randomly intercepts peoples' daily routines and prompts them to get in touch with what they are feeling, bringing them into the present moment. It provides insight and breaks patterns of feeling, attitudes and behavior through awareness and engaging, inspirational practices.
Hazelden Mobile Apps
Hazelden's mobile applications feature their best-selling daily meditation books, Twenty-Four Hours a Day, Each Day a New Beginning, A Day at a Time, Food for Thought, and Touchstones. The apps feature the complete collection of thoughts, meditations, and prayers.
Meditation for Overcoming Life's Stress
Oceanhouse Media, Inc.
This app is produced by Bernie Siegel, MD, the surgeon, teacher and author of Love, Medicine & Miracles, Prescriptions for Living, and Help Me to Heal. The program is geared to overcoming life's pressures and anxieties through guided imagery and self-hypnosis. Select and play the individual affirmations of your choice, create a customized playlist, and set a sleep timer to listen for a customized period of time. It helps you deal with negative thoughts, past hurts, stress, grief, and other conditions that contribute to a lack of well-being. By repeated listening outmoded thought patterns will grow less strong and be replaced by new thought patterns that support a healthier physical and mental state.
Logiciel iLB (SENC)
This App can help you relax, meditate, do yoga or sleep by producing a customized mix of your favorite sounds from a selection of 50. Professionally designed and developed, it offers high quality ambient sounds, volume adjustment for each sound, and binaural beats for brainwave synchronization to help induce mental states such as relaxation, meditation, creativity and sleep.
iSamahdi — Meditation Timer
Create customized sessions that can match your varied meditation habits and needs. Meditate in silence or associate a favorite song, chimes or guided teaching with the meditation. You can keep track of your meditations and experiences in your meditation journal. Features a session timer that can be paused and resumed and multiple chime choices developed by Buddhist monks.
Nurturing the spiritual aspect of life, which can include such things as music, poetry, literature, nature, or prayer, takes a person to a place above ego and day to day concerns and promotes a sense of peace and timelessness.
Addiction Alchemy is a holistic, self-help journey for addiction recovery, based on the Medicine Wheel model. It provides a unique spiritual perspective, offering interactive recovery tools and online guidance.
Spirituality Information to Help You
This site offers Information about meditation and other spiritually oriented resources in a variety of formats (podcasts, video, MP3 and more) to help people find comfort, hope, clarity, strength and happiness.
Relax & Recover offers downloads and CDs of guided muscle relaxation, hypnotherapy, guided imagery and relaxation music. These are developed by Tom Diffenderfer, a licensed addictions counselor and musician. A CD of the Wellness Education classes he teaches in inpatient and transitional living addiction programs is also available. Using the sound of moving water as a backdrop, these guided muscle relaxations and hypnotherapy exercises teach you how to relax your body and mind. Adding these wellness strategies to a recovery program is thought to improve the quality of sobriety, which in turn reduces relapse potential.
In dealing with the chemical imbalances that are both a cause of substance abuse and a result of long-term substance addiction, nutritional therapy can be helpful in several ways.
Food and Addiction
This site was developed by Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD., the author of Potatoes not Prozac which charts the relationship between sugar addiction and alcoholism. It includes resources related to substance addiction plus an online program to help people deal with sugar addiction. There is also an online forum and a series of Internet-based two-week classes for $24.95 each which deal with various aspects of addiction including brain chemistry. Out-patient treatment based on this approach is also available in Albuquerque (call 505 345-3737 for further information).
Intravenous Amino Acids
Based in Vancouver, BC, this outpatient program focuses on biochemical detoxification of the body and brain. It includes Amino Acid IV Therapy, a Naturopathic physical work-up, infrared sauna detoxification, auricular acupuncture, massage therapy and the Agora For Life Program which deals with the emotional and mental aspects of addiction. The 10 day intensive program costs $9,800 (plus GST) and the 15 day intensive costs $13,500 (plus GST). Both program fees include the Agora for Life Aftercare program.
Body Mind Recovery Technologies
RecoverEaze, formerly known as the NORA formula, is a proprietary blend of amino acids delivered intravenously. It is available at authorized treatment centers and by health professionals around the country, in both IV and oral supplement form. Under Providers, physicians and clinics who administer RecoverEaze are listed by state.
Nutritional Supplements, Vitamins and Herbs
Nutritional supplements such as herbs, amino acids (see chart below), vitamins and other nutrients restore the proper biochemical balance in the brain. These supplements are specified, according to your addiction, in an excellent book written by Charles Gant, MD, PhD, who has helped over 7,500 patients with his innovative nutritional program designed to help people addicted to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or pain medication. The book, End Your Addiction Now: The Proven Nutritional Supplement Program That Can Set You Free by Charles Gant and Greg Lewis, published by Warner Books, 2002, can be purchased at amazon.com.
This web site is dedicated to helping people manage their addiction to opiate pain killers. It offers an organic herbal/vitamin supplement designed to help relieve withdrawal symptoms, a blog on opiate addiction and the top ten reasons to stop taking pain killers.
Books on Nutrition
End Your Addiction Now: The Proven Nutritional Supplement Program That Can Set You Free by Charles Gant and Greg Lewis, published by Warner Books, 2002, can be purchased at amazon.com. Nutritional supplements such as herbs, amino acids (see chart below), vitamins and other nutrients restore the proper biochemical balance in the brain. These supplements are specified, according to your addiction, in an excellent book written by Charles Gant, MD, PhD, who has helped over 7,500 patients with his innovative nutritional program designed to help people addicted to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or pain medication.
In addition, eliminating certain substances such as sugars and simple starches and increasing protein intake can help to rebalance brain chemistry. Good nutrition can also help heal damage to the body caused by the depletion of nutrients common in substance abuse.
Natural Highs by Hyla Cass M.D. and Patrick Holford published by Avery Books/Penguin Putnam in 2002 can be purchased at amazon.com. This book usefully reviews and gives specific doses of herbs, amino acids, nutritional supplements and foods that help a person have a sharp mind and feel happy, calm, energetic and connected to people. The main tips from this book including specific doses of herbs and amino acids can be found atcassmd.com/books/naturalhighs/.
Another helpful book which has benefited many people with its nutritional advice is Seven Weeks To Sobriety: The Proven Program to Fight Alcoholism Through Nutrition by Joan Mathew Larson Ph.D. This book can also be purchased at amazon.com.
To Find a Nutritionist:
American Dietetic Association
Some people may decide to work directly with a nutritionist. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) web site can help you locate a nutritionist. The ADA is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Click on the Find a Registered Dietitian on the top menu bar to locate dietitians in the United States by zip code. Descriptions include areas of practice or specialty for each dietitian.
Another important area of the use of nutrition in recovery and relapse prevention is the addition of appropriate amino acids that serve as the building blocks for powerful chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters, including epinephrine and norepinephrine, GABA, serotonin and dopamine, are closely tied to addiction behavior. With the use of various amino acids, brain chemistry can be changed to help normalize and restore deficiencies in the neurotransmitters that spur cravings that can lead to addiction and relapse. http://www.medhelp.org/tags/health_page/45/Addiction/Amino-Acid-Protocol?hp_id=15
Restored Brain Chemical
Addictive Substance Abuse
Amino Acid Deficiency Symptoms
Expected Behavior Change
D-Phenylalanine or DL-Phenylalanine
DO NOT TAKE IF YOU ARE TAKING A SSRI OR
TRICYLIC ANTIDEPRESSANT or if you have DIABETES or HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Heroin, Alcohol, Marijuana, Sweets, Starches, Chocolate, Tobacco
Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions sensitive to physical or emotional pain. Crave comfort and pleasure. Desire certain food or drugs.
Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Mild anti-depression. Mild improved energy and focus. D-Phenylalanine promotes pain relief, increases pleasure.
L-Phenylalanine or L-Tyrosine
L-tyrosine to the mix in the early part of the day.. up to 1,500mgs
Caffeine, Speed, Cocaine, Marijuana, Aspartame, Chocolate, Alcohol, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches
Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions. Depression, low energy. Lack of focus and concentration. Attention-deficit disorder.
Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Increased energy. Improved mental focus.
L-Tryptophan or 5 hydroxytryptophan (5HTP)
Dosage-- up to 300mgs a day 3x DAILY ( I take 100mgs 3x per day, start with the lower dose and move up if needed) IF YOU ARE TAKING THE 5HPT DO NOT TAKE SAM E AS WELL. IT CAN BE DANEROUS
Sweets, Alcohol, Starch, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Chocolate, Tobacco
Low self-esteem. Obsessive/compulsive behaviors. Irritability or rage. Sleep problems. Afternoon or evening cravings. Negativity. Heat intolerance. Fibromyalgia, SAD (winter blues).
Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Anti-insomnia. Improved appetite control. Improvement in all mood and other serotonin deficiency symptoms.
GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid)
Valium, Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches
Feeling of being stressed-out. Nervous. Tense muscles. Trouble relaxing.
Promotes calmness. Promotes relaxation.
up to 2000mgs 3x per day.
GABA (mild enhancement)
Sweets, Starches, Alcohol
Stress. Mood swings. Hypoglycemia.
Anti-craving, anti-stress. Levels blood sugar and mood. GABA (mild enhancement). Fuel source for entire brain.
L-Taurine another "relaxing" amino up to 1000mgs 3x daily
Sam-e-- aids in stress relief, depression, eases pain, and produces antioxidant effect that can improve the health of the liver 200-400mgs per day YOU ARE TAKING THE SAME DO NOT TAKE 5HPT AS WELL. IT CAN BE DANEROUS
Note: To assist in amino-acid nutritional therapy, the use of a multi-vitamin/mineral formula is recommended. Many vitamins and minerals serve as co-factors in neurotransmitter synthesis. They also serve to restore general balance, vitality and well-being to the Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RSD) patient who typically is in a state of poor nutritional health (see paragraph above chart for explanation of RSD).
This chart was originally published in the following article. Blum K, Ross J, Reuben C, Gastelu D, Miller DK. "Nutritional Gene Therapy: Natural Healing in Recovery. Counselor Magazine, January/February, 2001
Qigong is a traditional Chinese health practice. Qi (life energy or breath) gong (work) is a series of slow moving exercises that gather and stimulate the movement of Qi in the body. Qigong has also been called "moving meditation." Qigong is believed to have general health promoting and healing effects.
National Qigong Association (NQA)
Click on Find Members to locate practitioners by state or zip code. Listings often include the practitioner's own web site with their teaching schedule and further information as well as their specialties, membership level, NQA teacher certification level, and email. The web site also includes an extensive list of articles and information on Qigong.
On the left menu bar under Teachers and Therapists the site provides a directory of members of the Institute organized by state and briefly describes their practices. The site also includes recommended books and videos on Qigong, blogs and newsletters, and much more.
RESEARCH: Li M, Chen K, Mo Z. “Use of qigong therapy in the detoxification of heroin addicts.” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 8(1): 50-59, 2002.
In this study conducted in China on 86 male heroin addicts undergoing detoxification, the treatment group practicing Qigong experienced less anxiety and more rapid reduction of withdrawal symptoms than the group receiving detoxification drugs alone.
The practice of qigong, through its use of movement, breath work, visualizations and meditation, may be a beneficial addition to both a detoxification regimen and to an overall treatment and relapse prevention strategy.
Yoga is a technique that uses physical postures and controlled breathing to lengthen and strengthen the spine, increase flexibility, calm the mind, improve concentration, and promote patience. Yoga can also contribute to a greater sense of control in more acute states when experiencing cravings, insomnia, agitation, etc. Regular practice is needed to fully experience these benefits.
Addiction, Recovery and Yoga
In this professionally made documentary film people speak candidly and compellingly about their addictions, working the 12-step program, and how yoga helped them in various ways with their recovery. The film is made by a senior Iyengar Yoga teacher and yoga therapist.
Yoga Association (AYA)
This site provides information on the different types of yoga and guidance on how to choose a qualified teacher.
The site presents the Institute’s Guide to Programs, Online Courses, Certification Programs, meditation retreats and residential programs. It also includes articles and digital media to read, listen to and view.
Yoga Nidra CD / Yoga for Health
Created by a certified substance abuse counselor and trained yoga instructor, this CD is deep guided relaxation not physical yoga instruction. Yoga Nidra is an ancient method of deep rest, but unlike sleep you remain completely conscious and are able to release tension and anxiety. In this relaxed state you can plant the seeds of change in the subconscious mind through “sankalpa”, a Sanskrit word for a resolution that you make to yourself at the beginning and end of each practice. It is a powerful method for reshaping your personality and releasing old habits that interfere with your health and well-being. Research has shown that yoga nidra has been used to alleviate anxiety and depression and other issues that can arise when a person stops using alcohol or drugs. Available as a download ($9.99) or CD ($14.99) on cdbaby.com.
Developed by a chiropractor, this site provides online yoga classes with guided instruction (via RealAudio and Streaming Video) including breathing, stretching, relaxation, a yoga workout and chanting.
You can also learn about a type of yoga that focuses on meditation and breath-work described in our Meditation section here.
Khanna S, Greeson JM. “A narrative review of yoga and mindfulness as complementary therapies for addiction.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 21(3):244-52, 2013.
A small but growing number of well-designed clinical trials and experimental lab studies on smoking, alcohol dependence, and substance use support the effectiveness and proposed mechanisms of action of mindfulness-based therapies for treating addiction. Very few studies have been conducted on the specific role of yoga in treating or preventing addiction but current findings increasingly support yoga and mindfulness as promising complementary therapies for addictive behaviors.
Lohman R. “Yoga techniques applicable within drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes.” Therapeutic Communities. 20(1): 61-71, 1999.
This article describes specific yoga techniques used for detoxification and rehabilitation including breath control, relaxation and meditation, postures, diet and chanting. Research results strongly suggest that yoga is a positive motivator for rehabilitation and an aid to detoxification. Yoga used in conjunction with counseling and group work appears to support and further the healing process.
Authentic Yoga with Deepak Chopra and Tara Stiles
iOS $1.99Android $1.99
Demonstrated by Tara Stiles and guided by DeepakChopra, this app contains video explanations of individual poses, breathwork, and other yoga practices with customizable routines and a full explanation of Authentic Yoga. It has a community feature to ask questions and connect with other yogis. Authentic Yoga also includes unique yoga video lessons by Tara for everything from building strength and flexibility to relieving stress.
Hatha Yoga — Your portable yoga studio
Provides hours of professionally recorded instruction by the head Hatha Yoga instructor for the Sivananda organization. Stop motion visuals show you how to get into and out of each posture correctly. Features include built-in classes for various skill levels, the ability to customize any class to suit your specific needs, meditation and breathwork (Pranayama ) instruction, the option to play your own music in the background, and the ability to pause for breaks whenever you need to. The app remembers your position so you can resume your practice right where you left off.