Alternative Drug Detox Methods

Clinical monitoring, medication, rehydration and nutritional replacement are the mainstays of conventional drug detox programs. But more recently, alternative therapies have been introduced to make the detox process easier and more effective. Alternative therapies can be used to supplement a traditional detoxification protocol and to help you make the transition from detox to rehab. These healing practices can help with detox in these important ways:

  • By facilitating the elimination of toxins from the body
  • By reducing the physical side effects of withdrawal
  • By relieving the psychological symptoms of withdrawal, such as anxiety
  • By encouraging self-awareness
  • By promoting overall health

Unlike conventional detoxification procedures, which draw primarily from Western allopathic medicine, alternative therapies arise from a number of cultural traditions, including Asian medicine, Native American healing ceremonies and contemporary schools of bodywork. Although the specific techniques of each therapy differ, alternative detox methods all take a holistic approach to health, addressing the needs of the mind and spirit as well as the body.

Alternative Approaches to Detox

Alternative drug detox therapies have become a key component of comprehensive addiction treatment programs. In addition to pharmacological therapy, counseling and group support, clients can now facilitate the detoxification process through yoga classes, guided meditation sessions, tai chi classes or acupuncture sessions. Reiki, Native American healing practices, massage and hypnotherapy are also offered at some of the country’s most advanced rehab centers.

How can alternative approaches to detox help you reach your recovery goals? Here are a few of the most popular therapies used in treatment centers today:

  • Yoga. The ancient art of yoga can play an important role in healing stress-related diseases, according to research published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. By centering the mind and focusing attention on the body and breath, yoga helps reduce the internal tension and anxiety that promote addictive behavior.
  • Acupuncture. According to the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, the Chinese healing practice of acupuncture has been used to relieve the symptoms of drug detox since 1972, when a neurosurgeon from Hong Kong used acupuncture to help control opiate withdrawal symptoms. Acupuncture involves the careful placement of very fine needles in specific pressure points on the ears, face or body to promote healing and recovery.
  • Massage. Massage facilitates the detox process by improving blood circulation, strengthening the immune system and speeding up the body’s natural release of toxins. Regular massage sessions also promote deep relaxation, which can relieve the anxiety and restlessness associated with drug withdrawal.
  • Reiki. Reiki is a form of holistic energy work that originated in Japan. The practice involves gently laying hands on various points on the body in order to promote the flow of energy, reduce stress and heal emotional injuries. In drug detox, reiki is used to soothe the panic and anxiety of withdrawal and to help the addict recover from the guilt and pain that are often caused by addiction.

How Effective Is Alternative Drug Detox?

Clinical studies on alternative drug detox therapies have had promising results. A study published in the journal Alternative Therapies indicated that qigong — a Chinese health practice that integrates movement, guided imagery and meditation — can improve withdrawal symptoms in heroin addicts. In addition to promoting healing and recovery, alternative therapies are generally safe and produce few side effects.

Alternative therapies are not recommended as a substitute for detox, but as an adjunct to a comprehensive treatment program. When combined with medication, therapy and psychosocial support, healing arts like acupuncture, yoga or reiki can reinforce the transformative effects of a drug detox program. During detox and rehab, these complementary practices can help build self-esteem and recover from the emotional and physical damage of addiction. In the aftercare phase, practices like yoga, massage and martial arts can provide a safe, healthy alternative to the destructive habits of the past.

How Do I Find a Good Alternative Drug Detox Program?

The treatment center you choose should use evidence-based strategies to maximize your chances of achieving long-term recovery. To reap the benefits of alternative drug detox methods, look for a program that draws from a number of different healing traditions. The treatment center should be licensed by the state agency that oversees detoxification programs in your state, and should have earned accreditation from national agencies that set standards in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Alternative drug detox methods can address your psychological, spiritual and physical needs during the cleansing process. For information on how a comprehensive drug rehabilitation program can help you create the life you truly want, contact our compassionate intake professionals here at Axis. We offer individualized treatment plans that support recovery on all levels.