Why Our Team Utilises a Holistic Treatment Approach to Addiction: An insight into our mental health treatment programs and why they are so effective

Closeup of psychotherapist supporting depressed young black woman, holding her hands at mental

For many, when they hear the word “addiction,” their minds often conjure up images of medical detox rooms or clinical rehabilitation clinics.

Although detox is very much a part of the recovery process, and a crucial one at that, there is so much more to addiction treatment than what many may think.

In recent decades, rehab centres treating substance use and other forms of addiction have moved away from the traditional approach of providing treatment, focusing on the “whole” person, instead of just symptom management.

Addiction is an outcome of something, not an isolated issue.

Nowadays, most rehab clinics utilise a more comprehensive, trauma-informed approach to recovery where clinicians and practitioners view addiction as an outcome of something rather than an isolated issue.

For instance, renowned trauma expert Gabor Mate says that dependency, whether it be alcohol or drug use, shopping or sex addiction, is often an outcome of childhood trauma or a way for people to cope with their current challenges, sometimes both.

Mate explains how people often reach for the bottle or credit card or engage in illicit sex with a stranger to forget or numb difficult memories, stress, or worries.

Offering a more blended treatment approach provides much promise and hope to those in addiction recovery as, among many other benefits, they can learn healthier alternatives to coping. The net result is often positive and long-lasting.

The educational landscape of addiction

The educational landscape of addiction has evolved over the years, and clinicians are becoming increasingly aware of the pivotal role the nervous system plays in substance use and behavioural addictions like gambling and video gaming.

Drinking or drug-taking is often an attempt to regulate a dysregulated nervous system, i.e., when a person drinks or uses drugs, they may feel more connected to themselves and others. 

They may also experience increased confidence, warmth, and self-esteem.

Moreover, substances often give the illusion of being helpful. 

For instance, people often self-medicate through alcohol or drugs to alleviate their discomfort, whether they struggle with symptoms of unresolved trauma, depression, chronic pain, or debilitating social anxiety.

Mental health professionals must utilise a holistic approach to addiction treatment as these programs often produce the most effective, long-lasting recovery outcomes for those in treatment, teaching them healthy coping skills and how to build and maintain resilience.

Why our team utilises a holistic treatment approach to addiction

An insight into our mental health treatment programs and why they are so effective

At Centres for Health and Healing, we understand the complexities of addiction and the underlying root causes that often underlie substance use and other forms of dependency, such as trauma and other adverse experiences.

We have witnessed the profound positive impact of offering clients a more varied treatment approach that explores all the different parts of the individual, not just their presenting symptoms.

Much like addiction, humans are complex beings and, therefore, must be treated with the utmost respect, dignity, and appreciation that their uniqueness brings to the world and the therapy room.

Our clinical team comes from diverse backgrounds and experiences; however, we all share the view that addiction is a multifaceted disease and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach or linear path to recovery. Nor should there be. 

Offering clients a personalised, holistic treatment plan significantly increases the chances of the program being engaging, interactive, and practical.

Unsurprisingly, the above increases a person’s recovery and relapse prevention success rate.

Our addiction therapies, combined with evidence-based mental health treatment programs, make an effective, long-lasting recovery possible. 

Thus, our team utilises a holistic approach tailored to each individual.

Our addiction and mental health treatment programs in Ontario, Canada

Medical detox

Addiction treatment often begins with a medically supervised detoxification, which helps rid your body of substances and any other toxins.

Aside from a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis, medical detox is usually the first port of call for those in addiction treatment.

It includes the guidance and management of moderate to severe, often painful symptoms that are frequently experienced in substance withdrawal.

Our recovery centre in Ontario, Canada, offers a fully comprehensive treatment facility specialising in alcohol detox management within a clinically supervised medical setting.

Once you have undergone medical detox, the next phase of your treatment is discussed and facilitated.

Whether you require inpatient or outpatient support, we combine various evidence-based treatments and methods to help you stay on track with your recovery and abstain from substance use.

Below is a list of the mental health treatment programs we provide for treating addiction and co-occurring disorders:

1. Trauma treatment

Mother and son hug during family trauma therapy

As mentioned earlier, addiction (and other mental health disorders) often arise from unresolved trauma.

Our team provides extensive trauma-informed treatment to clients, helping them to explore, unpack, and resolve any underlying issues that may cause or worsen their substance use or other emotional difficulties.

Trauma is often referred to as an emotional ‘wound’ or ‘injury’ arising from events or experiences that are painful, upsetting, or overwhelming to the individual.

These events may include:

  • Childhood trauma or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
  • Single-event trauma, such as being involved in a car accident or physical assault.
  • The sudden loss of a loved one.
  • Exposure to a natural disaster, such as a severe flood, hurricane, or global pandemic.
  • Domestic violence.
  • The breakdown of a significant relationship.
  • Chronic stress in your environment, including issues at work or home.
  • Chronic health issues.

As mentioned, people often drink or take drugs as a coping mechanism to help them deal with painful memories, traumatic events, or daily stressors.

Trauma treatment allows those in recovery to confront their problematic past, helping to reframe their traumatic experiences in new, more empowering ways by reprocessing them safely and compassionately under the guidance of an experienced professional.

Once a person’s trauma has been reprocessed and resolved, any urges or cravings they once had to use substances or engage in a particular behaviour gradually diminish as the nervous system becomes more regulated and traumatic memories are released from the body.

2. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy, also called CBT, is a talk therapy often used in addiction treatment and inpatient rehab settings.

It is an effective-goal-oriented treatment that focuses on changing maladaptive beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours to help break the addictive cycle or pattern.

CBT provides those in recovery with life-long coping skills that help optimise and reframe old, unhelpful thinking and behavioural patterns, leading to increased sobriety and lower rates of relapse.

Studies show that cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most widely used treatments in addiction recovery due to its effectiveness and positively enduring impact on those in the healing phase of treatment.

3. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

Elderly man talking to a psychologist at a mental health, psychology and therapy clinic for session

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), developed initially to treat borderline personality disorder, has stretched beyond its initial boundaries and, in recent years, has become a proven, effective therapy for all types of addiction.

DBT combines CBT principles with mindfulness and dialectical principles and techniques.

“Dialectical” means discovering what is true or accurate by considering opposing arguments or theories.

In a therapeutic setting, this often means challenging negative beliefs about yourself, the world, and those around you.

DBT has proven to be a crucial treatment in addiction recovery as it focuses on exploring, understanding, and managing thoughts and emotions that contribute to or worsen the addiction cycle.

Much like CBT, DBT gives individuals the necessary tools and techniques needed to break addictive patterns by addressing unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

However, DBT offers additional modules to cultivate positive growth and transformation for those in addiction recovery, including:

  • Mindfulness – involves being aware of the present moment without judgement or ridicule.
  • Emotional regulation skills include exploring and managing challenging emotions. This DBT module also involves reframing the context around intense feelings while practising self-compassion. 
  • Distress tolerance – teaches you the skills and techniques to manage stress and intense emotions without relying on substances like alcohol or drugs. 
  • Interpersonal effectiveness helps you cultivate healthier relationships by setting boundaries, clearly and respectfully expressing your feelings and needs to others, and taking on other people’s needs and opinions without becoming defensive or angry.

DBT allows those in addiction recovery to manage their addictive triggers, including intense emotions brought on by stressful situations, by fostering the principles mentioned above.

Once someone learns to regulate their emotions and cultivate healthy boundaries with others, they no longer feel the need to reach for the bottle, take drugs, or have sex with a stranger. 

If individuals can get agency over their emotions, they can replicate this in their behaviours, thus maintaining self-control, a vital aspect of addiction recovery.

4. Family support

happy family hugging and smiling together

Since addiction is a family disease, our team understands the inherent value of providing our clients with comprehensive, bespoke family support programs.

In our experience, family participation is one of the vital components of an effective, long-lasting addiction program, leading to better outcomes for the individual, thus minimising their risk of relapse.

Much research has shown the effectiveness of family support programs in addiction treatment.

For instance, one study showed that family-involved addiction treatment showed consistent impacts across client age, other characteristics, and treatment models. 

Moreover, both family and couple therapy produce benefits for substance use disorder (SUD) whether they are delivered as the exclusive treatment or as part of a multicomponent SUD treatment program (Hogue et al., in press.)

In addition to the above, family support programs allow treatment providers to offer education to families on the effects of substance use, helping them to understand their loved ones better, which leads to more compassion and support toward those in treatment.

It’s important to note that ‘family’ isn’t defined by just a person’s blood relatives. It refers to anyone who plays a consistent, supportive role in an individual’s life, such as a friend, partner, sibling, neighbour, or caregiver.

At Centres for Health and Healing, we provide weekly family therapy sessions facilitated by our specialist family therapist.

Contact us today to learn more about our family support program.

5. Aftercare and support

A practical, long-lasting addiction treatment must include consistent follow-up and aftercare support.

Once you leave rehab, a comprehensive, personalised aftercare program is vital to helping you stay on track with your recovery, allowing you to be part of a sober community in a familiar environment.

Depending on your needs, goals, and preferences, aftercare support programs may combine different services to offer a high level of care and support to help you navigate life after treatment.

Addiction recovery can often be a long and bumpy road. 

Aftercare programs are designed to help you chart this course more smoothly and mindfully, avoid relapse and practise the coping skills and other vital techniques learned during treatment.

The bottom line

Hands, psychology and patient with anxiety in a session for help or mental health counseling

Treating coexisting mental health disorders, as well as addiction through a holistic approach, can help you abstain from drugs and alcohol, thus avoiding relapse as the underlying causes of dependency have been unpacked and resolved.

Resolving a person’s underlying trauma and treating co-occurring issues that may fuel their addiction can reduce unpleasant mental health symptoms and improve their mood, making it less likely for them to engage in old, unhelpful habits.

Utilising a holistic treatment approach to addiction through a combination of mental health treatments and approaches offers much hope for those in addiction recovery, helping them to break free from the clutches of dependency by making healthier choices when faced with triggers or adversity.

To learn more about our addiction and mental health treatment programs, contact our friendly team at our recovery centre in Ontario, who will happily assist.

We are here and ready to guide you on your transformative journey to lasting sobriety and wellness.

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