Complementary Therapies

complementary therapies

Addiction is a complex condition that involves physical changes in the brain that produce strong urges to seek and use a substance. 

These urges can be extremely difficult to resist and often persist years into abstinence.

Overcoming these urges is not an easy task. It requires identifying harmful thought and behavioral patterns and developing new, healthy ones. It also requires the underlying causes of addictive behaviors, such as stress or depression, that can drive drug or alcohol use to be treated.

Furthermore, overcoming these urges requires whole body healing, personal growth, and an open and positive mindset that gives you strength in facing challenges ahead.

complementary therapies

What Are the Most Effective Treatments for Addiction?

Luckily, addiction is treatable, and recovery is possible for anyone. In recent years, extensive scientific research has uncovered a range of evidence-based treatment options that support long-term recovery.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective treatment programs offer individualized recovery plans that combine various treatment options tailored to each client's need.

At Tulip Hill, our expert team designs personalized treatment plans that may include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Complementary therapy
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
“They truly are an amazing place. I was able to learn and cope with emotions. The staff actually cares and understands how to help. I would definitely recommend treatment here!” 

- Lanny, Former Client

What Are Complementary Treatments?

Complementary treatments are ‘non-mainstream’ treatment approaches that are practiced alongside more mainstream treatment methods. They can supplement and strengthen the recovery journey, helping many people towards long-term abstinence and life-long recovery.

Often focusing on holistic, mind-body healing that strengthens the body and mind, complementary treatments help those in recovery maintain a balanced mood. They also help many cope with cravings and other challenges they may face.

Although complementary treatments lack scientific evidence regarding their effectiveness as addiction treatment, many clients and addiction specialists report hugely positive experiences with these treatments. As research and clinical studies involving addiction treatments continue, we hope to support additional types of therapy with strong scientific evidence. Creative therapies can also help you relax, destress, and release negative emotions, treating both the causes and symptoms of addiction.

Complementary treatments usually fall into two categories - mind-body practices and natural products. Natural products are consumables that you eat or drink that arise from natural origins. These include:

  • Herbs and botanicals
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Probiotics

Mind-body practices are activities, exercises, or techniques that help you achieve a specific goal, for example, relaxation or stress reduction. They can target the causes and symptoms of addictive behavior. Some mind-body practices include:

  • Yoga
  • Chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Relaxation techniques including deep breathing, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)
  • Tai chi
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Music and art therapy

These therapies can be employed at every stage of the recovery journey for all types of drugs. Research shows mindfulness meditation may effectively reduce cigarette cravings, and vitamin B1 helps clients recover from malnutrition that results from sustained alcohol abuse.

Below, we have shared more information about a few of the most widespread, evidence-based complementary therapies.

Yoga and the Vagus Nerve

Yoga is a practice involving physical postures that connect your body, mind, and breathing. It can provide relief from stress and pain, and it can improve your general well-being.

Yoga is a powerful treatment for recovery from substance use disorders. Around 50% of people struggling with a substance use disorder also live with an underlying condition like depression or anxiety. Yoga can offer a healthy way to cope with these feelings to help you stay away from drugs and alcohol.

Yoga works by affecting your central nervous system and impacting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain. GABA is a chemical that your body naturally releases to slow down brain activity, making you feel calmer and more relaxed. Research shows that yoga can increase GABA levels, reduce anxiety and improve overall mood.

Yoga also involves breathing exercises and postures that may activate your vagus nerve, which runs from your brain along the length of your spine. The vagus nerve calms your body, decreasing feelings of stress and anxiety. These positive interventions help change thought patterns and emotions that can lead to substance abuse, supporting you on your recovery journey.

Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment. It involves letting go of past and future concerns and becoming at peace with yourself. You can practice mindfulness through various techniques, including breathing exercises, focusing on your surroundings, and body scans.

So how does mindfulness support addiction recovery? Research suggests that specific triggers, such as stress, anxiety, or cues in our surroundings, produce urges in our brains that cause us to seek and use drugs. Mindfulness may be able to interrupt this process. It can:

  • Help you deal with negative thoughts and emotions in healthy ways
  • Reduce your sensitivity to environmental cues
  • Prevent you from falling into negative thought patterns and reduce feelings of worry and shame

Scientific research supports these claims with current models suggesting that these interventions can support the recovery process, acting as a powerful tool for overcoming addiction and maintaining abstinence.

Deep-breathing, Guided Imagery, and Progressive Muscle Relaxation

A scientific review by BMC Psychiatry found that relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can reduce anxiety symptoms, which can, in turn, support addiction recovery. Progressive muscle relaxation techniques involve tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body. It helps you feel calmer in your mind and your body.

Other relaxation exercises, like deep breathing and guided imagery, can also relieve stress and decrease anxiety. By improving your mood and helping you avoid negative thought patterns, they treat some of the driving factors behind addictive behaviors.

Music and Art Therapy

Music therapy is an experiential therapy that uses music to help you process difficult emotions, relax, and practice honest communication. It may also help manage various psychological and physical problems, including chronic pain and addiction.

Creative art therapy involves creative, non-verbal, and imaginative exercises. You partake in exercises like drawing emotions, making sculptures, and creating art journals. Research has found that art therapy can be an effective treatment for several mental health conditions.

Music and art therapy help you express and explore emotions that may be difficult to communicate verbally because of their complexity or intensity. You may be able to work through issues that underlie your addiction that you have been unable to approach in talking therapies. 

What Is the Difference Between Complementary Therapy and Alternative Therapy?

Groups such as the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) view complementary and alternative therapy as different terms.

They define complementary therapy as ‘non-mainstream’ treatments that you receive alongside approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and support groups, while alternative therapy is when you participate in these treatments as a replacement for more ‘mainstream’ methods.

However, some people use the terms interchangeably. The term ‘complementary and alternative medicines (CAM)’ can refer to either of these two concepts or both.

Holistic Healing and Long-Term Recovery

Complementary therapies can be an essential part of the recovery process. They can promote meaningful and holistic healing of the mind, body, and soul so that you can overcome the underlying causes of addiction and journey to a life of sobriety.

They often also represent important forms of self-care that can help maintain your overall well-being in the years after you leave treatment so that you can maintain abstinence in the long term.

If you are struggling with addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today to take the first step of your journey.

  • Wonderful environment. The staff is exceptional. The care they show clients is above and beyond what anybody could expect. I genuinely give credit to Tulip Hill for helping me to start down a NEW part of my life. Thank you, Tulip Hill!

    - Chad, Former Client

  • They truly are an amazing place. I was able to learn and cope with emotions. The staff actually cares and understands how to help. I would definitely recommend treatment here!

    - Lanny, Former Client

  • They have done a FANTASTIC job with Tulip Hill Recovery. Highly recommend them for anyone seeking drug and alcohol treatment.

    - David, Former Client

With the right help, you can beat addiction

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1800 S Rutherford Blvd #103
Murfreesboro, TN 37130

228 West Baltimore Street
Jackson, TN 38301

About Tulip Hill
Tulip Hill is a family-owned rehabilitation center with first-hand experience in addiction recovery. 

We believe a dual diagnosis approach that treats the mental health conditions underlying addiction is the best route to long-term sobriety.

1800 S Rutherford Blvd #103
Murfreesboro, TN 37130

228 West Baltimore Street
Jackson, TN 38301
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