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Preventing Relapse with a Holistic Drug Rehab Model

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holistic-drug-rehabWhat is a holistic drug rehab approach and why is it important?

Many people believe that once they complete an addiction treatment program, their substance or drug abuse issue is done for good. But addiction recovery is a process, not an event. 

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the rate of relapse after addiction treatment is between 40 and 60%. That number may seem high, but it is comparable to the rates of recurrence with chronic illness and medical conditions.

Given those rates, how can an individual prevent relapse effectively over the long term? The answer lies in holistic self care.

What is a Holistic Drug Rehab Approach?

In order to promote lasting recovery, a holistic drug rehab program needs to address the four levels of self—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

These must be healed together.

If a person only focuses on changing a given behavior (such as substance abuse), they may ignore the mental and emotional issues that underlay the addiction.

As a result, the various levels of an individual’s psyche will go out of balance. If this imbalance isn’t handled properly, the risk of relapse is high.

Here's a bit of a description of the four levels of self and how they interconnect and influence one another:



Think of a human being as a system. The system wants to be in sync. If a part of the system changes, tension exists until the system comes back into alignment. If a person lacks the tools necessary to improve the other levels, then tension will result.

When an individual stops using drugs, alcohol, opioids, or other substances, they create a more positive experience on the physical level. However, often the underlying mental and emotional issues that drove the substance abuse remain unhealed, and thus, the levels are out of alignment. (Learn about how to heal the underlying core issues of addiction by downloading this free eBook.)

Download E-Book Healing Core Issues


At that point, the individual has two choices. They can either do the work with their mental and emotional issues so that they match up with the new, more positive physical alignment …

. . . or wait for some triggering event to cause the physical level to snap back to its former state. Basically, start numbing out and using drugs again.

The only way that a person can maintain such an imbalance - abstaining from the addictive substance - is by using their own willpower.

Relying solely on willpower can work for short periods, but it’s not a sustainable long term strategy. Since personal resolve is finite, it will always run out at some point.  

The spiritual level is important because it underlies all three of the other levels. There is no duality (positive or negative balance) at the the spiritual level.

What we find here are the core states of unconditional love, harmony, peace, joy, and oneness. Living from this dimension enables us to heal the physical, mental and emotional levels.  

Learning the tools to treat one’s whole self is a major aspect of long term recovery in both substance addiction and mood disorders. An effective holistic drug rehab program includes these elements.

Ask yourself:

  • Where am I at on each of the levels of self?
  • What’s my spiritual condition?
  • Do i love myself, or am i living in shame?
  • Am I focused on my relationship with me or what others think of me?
  • Do I trust myself?  
  • Do I see myself as just as good as everyone else?  

Questions like these will help you understand where you need extra help. It’s important to think holistically, but often we can identify areas that need professional assistance.

Holistic Rehab: Professional Support Options

Often, individuals with addiction issues need professional assistance to overcome their limiting behaviors. Help is readily available. But don’t make the mistake of assuming that a particular health care professional takes a holistic drug treatment approach or understands you at all four levels.

Here's a list of different types of holistic rehab professionals can provide the help you need:


Psychiatrists look at the body’s chemistry and prescribe medications to improve its functionality.


Acupuncturists look at the energetic flow of the body. They use therapeutic needles to improve the energetic flow, thus assisting internal organs in their functioning.

Herbalists, Homeopaths, and Naturopaths

Herbalists treat ailments with herbal remedies.

Homeopathic practitioners treat ailments with homeopathic medication.

Naturopathy encompasses a broader category of practitioners who employ a wide range of treatment methods. These include (but are not limited to) counseling, supplementation, homeopathic medications, massage, and dietary changes.

All three approaches utilize the body’s own resources to heal physical, mental, and emotional issues.


Psychologists treat ailments through the resources of the mind. They help people tap into their own inner resources, look at the unresolved issues causing upset, and try to ultimately heal an issue for good.


Nutritionists use food as medicine. They consult with people on their dietary intake and recommend proper dietary guidelines and nutritional supplements.

Spiritual Practitioners

Both religious and nonreligious faith-based assistance can be essential since spirit is the foundation of holistic mental health. This doesn’t mean you need to find an alter or start burning incense. A spiritual mentor can help you reconnect with your purpose and self worth.

Choosing the Right Holistic Healing Center

Each of the above approaches has merit, and many can be combined for optimal physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

If you feel you still need help choosing the right mix of treatment and holistic healing center, you might start by seeking a social worker or a counselor to oversee your care.

A professional counselor that specializes in holistic healing can help you to devise a program and make adjustments as needed.

Holistic Recovery is Not a One Time Deal

Self care and holistic recovery is not a one time deal but a day-to-day process. Life will continue to throw curve balls. The question is, ‘how will we handle them?’

As we wrote in our blog post What is relapse anyway? Changing the face of relapse during recovery:

How you are with yourself as you face your issue, is the issue. We can beat ourselves up...or take this episode as an opportunity to look at the triggers and grow from it.

The most important part of self care, is loving and forgiving yourself, and releasing shame.

Don’t Put Off Holistic Recovery

When people put off dealing with a nagging problem, it can snowball into a crisis that can then lead to a relapse. But as people learn to take care of what annoys them, something beautiful takes place.

Suddenly, they realize that they are taking care of themselves, perhaps for the very first time. Their trust in themselves builds as they honor their true feelings and needs. Every day, they tell themselves: “I matter. I am here for you.” As a result their mind, body, emotions, and spirit can soar!

To learn more about The Clearing's holistic drug rehab approach, download our free eBook.

Download eBook:

Healing Underlying Core Issues


Joe Koelzer

This post was written by Joe Koelzer

Joe Koelzer is a co-founder of The Clearing. He has years of counseling experience and a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. After observing how depression and substance abuse impacted his wife’s life, Joe realized how broken our current system is for addiction and related mental health treatment. He witnessed firsthand how an evidence-based approach coupled with Spiritual Psychology saved Betsy and enabled her to gain control of her life. In co-founding The Clearing, Joe realizes his dream of creating and sharing this innovative approach with others in a structured clinical setting.

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