Why Incorporating Integrative Therapies Benefits Substance Abuse Treatment

May 25, 2023

Incorporating integrative therapies into treatment for substance use and mental health disorders is one of the newest ways we are combining stress reduction with medically guided treatment. As we do, we are learning the ways integrative therapies benefit substance abuse treatment. 

Stress and anxiety are all too common features of our modern world, and they can leave us all feeling vulnerable. Moreover, stress is a common risk factor in the development of substance use and mental health disorders. 

Most of us cannot escape the stresses of our world. They are all around us. Sometimes our stresses and anxiety come from our jobs, bills, or family matters. They can come from any combination of these, or something else entirely. 

Because we cannot rid ourselves of stress and anxiety, we have to learn ways to mitigate their effects. Some of us can do this easily, but for those of us with poor coping skills, facing stress and anxiety can lead us to seek relief in harmful places. 

This is why stress and anxiety are a cause for concern in substance use treatment. Read on as we learn why integrative therapies may hold the key to learning new coping skills and overcoming the stress and anxiety in our lives. 

Stress and Anxiety in the Healing Process

The healing process for substance use can be a hard cross to bear. It can make stressful situations feel more so, and make anxiety feel like a full-blown panic.

There might be other reasons besides withdrawal that make you feel stress and anxiety. For instance, you might be experiencing a serious mental health disorder that requires a diagnosis. Examples of anxiety disorders include social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.

As stated before, people who feel anxiety and stress and do not have good coping skills may turn to substance use. We all know self-medicating is not the answer, so what can be done about these feelings?

When you are in treatment, try not to let stress and anxiety get out of control. Instead, rely on your care team and ask them about what therapies might help you with coping with the anger, worries, and frustrations you feel. One technique they might recommend is integrative therapies.

What Are Integrative Therapies?

Integrative therapies is a relatively new term that refers to combining traditional approaches like medical and psychiatric interventions with complementary approaches such as yoga, exercise, or acupuncture. Unlike alternative therapies that focus only on complementary approaches and eschew traditional medicine, integrative therapies look at treatment holistically, using evidence-based techniques to derive change. 

Mindfulness Practices for Anxiety Reduction

Integrative therapies often incorporate mindfulness techniques and therapies into treatment programs with traditional interventions. Research has shown promising results that suggest mindfulness training may increase the chance of lasting recovery from substance use disorder (SUD).

There are several forms of mindfulness techniques. Two that have been studied more extensively are open monitoring and focused attention. 

During both focused attention and open monitoring, the practitioner focuses their awareness on the present. This present-focused awareness ideally blocks out the mental distractions that can cause stress and anxiety. In particular, they learn to accept themselves, and their mind, body, and spirit without reservation or judgment as they are in the present.

The difference between these techniques lies in their purpose. Focused attention helps the practitioner to be less distracted, while open monitoring trains them to resist chaotic thinking that leads to stress and anxiety.

Relaxing With Yoga and Acupuncture and Letting Stress Melt Away

Yoga is another popular mindfulness technique used in integrative therapies. Many studies demonstrate the efficacy of yoga in substance use reduction and the relaxation benefits of this ancient and time-honored practice are well known. 

Worldwide, acupuncture is a known and accepted treatment for many ailments, but it is just starting to break through into Western practice. For thousands of years, acupuncture has been used in Eastern medicine. Several studies have shown promise for acupuncture as a therapeutic treatment for addictions. 

No matter the technique, integrative therapies look holistically at treatment, and that is where their strengths are. And if research is any indication, they may hold some of the keys to helping stem the epidemic of addiction.  

Integrative Skills for Stress and Anxiety

In addition to utilizing integrative therapies, there are many skills that you can utilize to better manage stress and anxiety in your life. Here are a few techniques you may want to try:

  • Get good sleep: People need about 8 hours of restful sleep a night. No matter what is going on, resolve to be in bed a half hour before your bedtime and to sleep a full night. Read a book to relax and avoid looking at electronic devices to maximize your rest.
  • Consider meditation to relax your mind: A good meditation session can bring your brain down from the manic levels stress and anxiety can bring you to. Try taking ten minutes and clearing your mind in a comfortable place. It may be just what you need.
  • Talk it out: Whether you want to engage with a pastor, a counselor, a friend, or a loved one, talking it out can make a difference in your levels of stress. Talking out your feelings can give you an emotional release that helps you to move past anxiety.
  • Distract yourself with exercise and cooking healthy meals: Exercising regularly helps the muscles to relax and leads to a sense of calm. And sometimes a good distraction helps you to forget the negative and embrace the positive. 

Integrative therapies are one of the bold new approaches that are being incorporated into substance use treatment. These techniques combine traditional therapies such as medical and psychiatric interventions with complementary approaches such as mindfulness, yoga, and acupuncture that focus on wellness and relaxation. Bringing a sense of calming serenity into the healing process can help to reduce stress and anxiety and improve the physical and mental health of those in treatment. Whether you let go of the stresses of life by taking a relaxing walk in the woods or by stretching tired muscles in a yoga class, integrative therapies might be right for you. Call Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898 and find out about the integrative therapies we offer.