What is holistic addiction treatment?

Holistic addiction therapy is a non-medicinal recovery program that complements traditional treatment practices aimed at aligning the mind, body, and soul.

When becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, the mind, body, and soul suffers in various ways and can differ from person to person. It’s imperative that when you begin your journey to recovery, you begin to heal each area. A complementary treatment option such as Holistic Therapy will explore deeper into mental, social, emotional, and physical factors.

First Step Behavioral Health of Pennsylvania strives to combine holistic therapy, traditional treatments, and the 12-step model. Having a well-rounded combination of treatment services available provides individuals the necessary skills for long-term sobriety.

What are the benefits of holistic therapy?

Each individual therapy has its specific benefits. However, let’s review the overall benefits of holistic therapy:

  • Stress reduction and healthy coping skills
  • Better overall health
  • Increased self-esteem and identity
  • Spiritual connection to your understanding
  • Empowers self
  • Positive effects on mental health

How does addiction affect the mind, body, and spirit?


When repeatedly using substances, brain chemistry begins to be altered and the need for the drug becomes more intense. The brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine (a natural feel-good chemical) from the substances entering the body. Your brain begins to stop making the natural feel-good chemicals (dopamine and endorphins) and your serotonin begins to drop. A person’s ability to feel pleasure is reduced and often has difficulty enjoying things that once brought pleasure. Dopamine encourages the brain to repeat the pleasurable activity of drug-taking to feel good again while you begin to develop a tolerance (needing more of the drug to feel normal). Additionally, drug use affects feelings, moods, judgment, decision-making, learning, and memory.


Different drugs have different effects on the body and can vary from person to person. However, there are several side effects of short-term and long-term substance use that are seen despite the drug of choice. Drug use can affect every organ in the body. Below are some important ways how drug use affects your body:

  • Progressively weakens the immune system, increasing the risk for illnesses and infections.
  • Affecting heart and circulatory systems. Some drugs affect your heart rate and alter your blood pressure; leading to a potential heart attack. Some drugs (intravenous) may lead to collapsed veins, blood infections, and/or death (overdose).
  • Some drugs affect the digestive system (i.e., nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, decrease in weight, constipation, etc.).
  • Many drugs affect your lungs by altering your respiratory rate.
  • Affects your liver, kidneys, and reproductive system (affecting hormone levels)
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle aches


When your mind and body have been overcome by addiction, the soul will begin to dim. The intense need of needing to feel good in the mind and body will cause you to potentially do whatever it takes (going against your moral compass) to fulfill that need despite the negative consequences. You will start to separate yourself from the people who care about you and begin surrounding yourself with those who seek the need as you do. You may disconnect or remove yourself from any spiritual connection. Individuals who feel dependent on drugs to “feel normal” often feel discontent within and their purpose; feeling detached from reality.

Some of the holistic therapies offered:

  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Sound Therapy
  • Music and Art therapy
  • Nutrition Education
  • Aroma Therapy
  • Reiki Therapy

If you’re looking to combine holistic therapy, traditional treatments, and the 12-step model, consider First Step Behavioral Health of Pennsylvania. We care when you can’t. To learn more about holistic therapies at First Step, call us at (844) 549-1307 or get in contact today.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Holistic Addiction Treatment Center in PennsylvaniaBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.