Substance abuse and addiction can affect the physical, mental, and spiritual health of an individual, which is why many believe that substance abuse recovery
should address these unique factors to aid in the recovery process.
Over 18 million Americans (18 and older) suffered a substance use disorder in 2017. Of these cases, about 75 percent struggled with alcohol abuse, 36 percent with illicit drugs, and 11 percent with both illicit drugs and alcohol misuse.
Integrative medicine is growing in popularity in the U.S. Across the country, the use of yoga, meditation, and chiropractors has increased in U.S. adults from 2012 to 2017. Because integrative medicine provides a wide array of treatment options, many are still being researched for their effectiveness in treating substance abuse.
However, preliminary research has indicated that integrative medicine has had many positive results in treating substance use disorders, especially when there is a co-occurring mental health issue, as this form of treatment can identify and assess the needs of both issues.
Substance abuse treatment that employes integrative medicine is a personalized strategy that considers the individuals' unique conditions, needs, and circumstances, and uses the most appropriate means of intervention.
What Is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative medicine addresses a full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental influences to personalize healthcare treatment to the individual. Compared with other treatment types that only focus on curing the symptoms, integrative medicine works to restore and maintain health and wellness across a person’s lifespan.
The term integrative means multiple different methods used together, instead of only focusing on traditional medicine. However, integrative medicine is not the same as alternative medicine and has several key components, including:
● The individual and healthcare providers are partners in the healing process.
● All factors influencing health are considered including mind, body, spirit, and community of the individual.
● Providers use healing sciences to aid the body's natural healing processes.
● Natural and less invasive interventions are used whenever possible.
While complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments, such as herbal remedies and acupuncture have grown in popularity over the last decade in the United States, these are only a piece of integrated medicine.
How Can Integrative Medicine Help During Substance Abuse Recovery?
Individuals who struggle with substance abuse and addiction know how this disease can influence every part of their lives and the lives of others. Integrative medicine is helpful, not only during recovery treatment but also after treatment is completed.
Integrative medicine is inquiry-driven and remains flexible so that it can address new issues as they arise, which makes it very useful for adapting to individual circumstances. The very core of integrative medicine is to improve the individuals quality of life. The same is true for people recovering from drug or alcohol abuse.
Addiction is a long-term condition, known for periods of relapse and recovery
. Integrative medicine helps address the complex needs of someone recovering from addiction, giving them a useful tool to use during their recovery.
Choosing A Recovery Program With An Integrative Approach to Treatment
Ideally, any form of substance abuse treatment an individual chooses to participate in should work together with the care of a primary care physician or mental health professional who is familiar with the pits and downfalls of addiction.
Integrative medicine is based on keeping the whole person healthy. In addition to treating the symptoms of substance abuse, it also looks at the cause of the disease to help individuals better maintain their recovery.
Different recovery programs will have different approaches to how they use integrative medicine, but it is now considered to be one of the most effective ways of addressing substance abuse recovery.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — The National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2017
National Institute on Drug Abuse — Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health — Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?