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Alternative Therapy Methods for Opium Addiction Treatment

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Several options are available for effectively treating prescription opioid addiction. These options are drawn from research on the treatment of heroin addiction and include medications… as well as behavioral counseling approaches.” As all opioid addiction syndromes present somewhat similarly, these options are often utilized for opium addiction treatment as well.

However, there are alternative therapy methods that are also viable options for opium addiction treatment. While these options, sometimes called holistic methods, are non-traditional and, therefore, not considered to be as clinically successful as the other options mentioned above (nor have they been studied as intensively), they have been found to create some incredibly beneficial results for individuals being treated for and recovering from opium addiction.

Art Therapy

Especially beneficial for adolescents and other individuals who struggle with traditional, talk-related therapy, art therapy utilizes artistic exercises that allow patients to work out their feelings through their creations (NIDA). This method has been used as a part of many treatment programs for various addiction syndromes, and it can often be beneficial in helping patients open up when they are struggling to do so. It also has been found to increase self-awareness, self-confidence, and creativity, the latter of which allows individuals to often find an activity that they enjoy and can continue working with as a deterrent to further drug abuse even after their treatment has ended.

Exercise Therapy

exercise therapy

Exercise therapy can help prevent drug use.

Whether the individual is receiving a specific exercise routine, a fusion of art and exercise created by dance or movement therapy, or another type of program entirely, exercise has a number of benefits for individuals in addiction treatment and can be especially helpful in readjusting a person’s lifestyle in a healthier direction.

According to the Director of the NIDA, exercise “helps prevent substance abuse” and can play a critical role in helping recovering addicts avoid relapse. While the science behind exercise’s benefits has been widely studied, its place in addiction recovery is beginning to be understood and it can be very helpful to addicts in and after treatment.


Yoga benefits patients in many of the same ways other types of exercise do, but it also teaches another very beneficial tool: mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness allows those who practice it to become aware of their own feelings, thoughts, and desires and to accept them without judgment. Meditation helps those who practice it improve their ability to focus, decrease their feelings of anxiety and stress, and regulate their moods.

According to a study from the journal of Complementary Therapies in Medicine, “Overall, current findings increasingly support yoga and mindfulness as promising complementary therapies for treating and preventing addictive behaviors.” The many components of this teaching make it ideal for large numbers of individuals who are attending treatment for addiction and who appreciate the benefits of an alternative therapy that benefits both the body and the mind in a fully holistic treatment experience.


According to the journal on Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “Acupuncture is an accepted treatment worldwide for various clinical conditions, and the effects of acupuncture on opiate addiction have been investigated in many clinical trials.” Though this method has been utilized in studies that date all the way back to the 1970s, the criticism of some of these studies has weakened the argument somewhat for its treatment of certain issues. Still, acupuncture is slowly becoming known as a viable treatment option for opioid drug addiction as part of a full treatment program.

This method has been found to relieve some of the withdrawal symptoms normally caused by opioid withdrawal, as well as “prevent symptoms of cravings” and increase patient participation and retention in long-term treatment programs. Acupuncture could be a beneficial option for many individuals and has in the past been a viable method for opioid addiction specifically.

Spiritual Growth and Healing

For many people, spirituality is a strong tool in helping them fight their addiction as well as its symptoms. Many rehabilitation programs provide religious counsel or programs that help patients better tap into their spiritual side. While this option is not beneficial to every individual, it can provide comfort, strength, and other necessary aspects to the recoveries of many.

Nature Therapy

Nature therapy can often be part of an overall addiction treatment program in many ways; for example, an individual might decide to attend a rehab center where they are surrounded by a natural setting. This can be invigorating as well as calming for the individual, and many programs that have this type of setting encourage patients to take nature walks and otherwise communicate with the outdoors.

Being out in nature creates calming and serene effects for the individual and often helps them feel relaxed in their treatment center. Many drug counselors often encourage their patients to use these same types of methods as well in order to increase their comfort level with the program and overall satisfaction with their recovery. Being in nature, in whatever way, can help patients slow down and focus on their recoveries.

Other Alternative Treatment Methods

Of course, there are a large number of other alternative treatment methods that can be beneficial to certain patients. According to the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, another type of holistic option involves vocational therapy and the patient’s need and ability to find work during or after treatment. Other options include:

  • Nutritional counseling
  • Resume building
  • Housing help
  • Tai Chi
  • Pet/animal therapy
  • Gardening therapy
  • Homeopathy
  • Herbal therapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Journaling
  • Massage therapy
  • Aromatherapy

There are many other options not listed here, and some can be incredibly beneficial to certain patients while others may not. The important thing to remember is that there are many options available to someone in addiction treatment and recovery for opium addiction, and while holistic or alternative options should always be part of a full treatment program that utilizes traditional methods as well, you may be able to benefit immensely from trying an alternative method as part of your opium addiction treatment program.

Looking for Alternative Care?

Do you want to find a treatment center or program that uses both holistic methods and traditional ones? Call 800-895-1695 today and we will help you find a program that meets your needs as well as answer any questions you may have about opium abuse and addiction treatment.

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