If you’re wondering, “What is holistic treatment of addiction?”…we are too! We’re here to examine the methods and models of holistic addiction treatment and their outcomes. Today, we speak with founder and CEO of Into Action Treatment, Andrey Rossin. We hope to uncover best practices in treating addiction from a holistic point of view.
ADDICTION BLOG: Welcome, Andrey. Let’s start off by first defining holistic addiction treatment. What does it mean to treat addiction holistically?
INTO ACTION TREATMENT: Holistic means “total,” which is to say “whole.” It means we have to concentrate on what I call a combination approach, targeting the person from all different angles. This entails beginning on the physical level, moving to the mental and then addressing the spiritual.
When clients arrive at our treatment center, they work on the physical part of holistic care. They go to the gym, workout, and get acupuncture and chiropractic services. They get involved in psychodrama and get massages. From the physical body, we then go to the head and start working on the brain functioning. We continually focus on diet and nutrition, which helps the thinking processes. Then, we enter the spiritual phase of treatment. Through 12-step work and soul searching, the person is actually able to become honest with themselves and objectively look in the mirror and have the capacity to differentiate the truth from the lies in their lives.
This is a holistic process that all of our clients must go through. There is a lot of one-on-one work with the primary therapists, plus over 5 hours of group work each day. They also start working with a recovered 12-step sponsor who comes to our center to carry his or her message of recovery. There is also intensive work with the family. This is important, because a dysfunctional family isn’t dysfunctional because of just one person.
ADDICTION BLOG: Your treatment center offers “holistic detox.” Are treatment options such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness offered as an adjunct to pharmacological detox or as substitutions? How does “holistic detox” work?
INTO ACTION TREATMENT: We offer holistic sub-acute detox; the acute detox phase is done in a medical detox setting, not at the center. Once medically cleared and the meds have worn off, clients arrive here and start our residential treatment. That is when we can start the process of working on their body, their mind, and their soul. We are a completely abstinence-based center. No drugs. That is an important distinction about our center.
We use yoga, meditation, vibro-acoustic therapy, and psychodrama throughout every phase of treatment, including detox. These are, of course, in conjunction with 12-step work, which is itself holistic. Nutrition is also important. All of our food is catered and carefully selected with the client’s nutritional requirements in mind.
Harmonial therapy is an amazing technique which combines visual and aroma therapy. All of this together, combined with acupuncture, naturally helps clients in terms of alleviating or greatly reducing anxiety, which is especially important during the detox phase.
ADDICTION BLOG: Further, have these methods of detox been tested in a clinical trial setting? How successful are the practices of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness during detox? What are some examples of measurements?
INTO ACTION TREATMENT: At this time, clinical research is being conducted that will provide hard data proving the health benefits of harmonial therapy. As we are participating in this groundbreaking study, and will be posting results to our website. The modalities that we utilize are geared toward achieving centeredness and alleviating anxiety. Our success in greatly reducing inner tension is proof of their effectiveness. In the detox setting, I believe that mindfulness, acupuncture, and vibro-acoustic therapy are immensely helpful. Bear in mind the distinction between acute detox and the longer detox period.
After acute medical detox, the sub-acute detox period takes about 30 days and longer for some who have been on methadone for a long time. That is where we come in with the holistic approach. Clients work on the underlying causes with their therapist, starting to work on their spiritual connection with the help of their sponsor. They start to address some of the pain issues that they have managed for years by using drugs and alcohol. The majority of clients that we see were using drugs or alcohol to manage their pain, and get out of reality, essentially self-medicating anxiety, fear, and depression.
Because they have learned to use alcohol and drugs as tools, when they get to the detox period and these tools are removed, all the stuff they wanted to avoid immediately hits them in the face. That is what they are going through when they get here, and it is very uncomfortable. Holistic care makes it easier to deal with reality, through reduced anxiety and increased spiritual fitness. A client’s open-mindedness, and how they work with their personal therapist, is what dictates success.
ADDICTION BLOG: How do you assess which type of therapy can help a particular individual? Are treatment options based on personal taste, choice, or other factors?
INTO ACTION TREATMENT: Clients do not get to choose their own treatment options, but every each person has his or her own individualized treatment plan. We are able to do that because we are so small.
I’m proud of the fact that with a capacity of 22 beds, we’re – on average – 15 beds full. This allows us to bring more to the client. My goal, as the owner of this facility, is for my clients to go through a series of breakthroughs, not just one. This is what ultimately creates a psychic change. The ultimate change, psychic change, is when the desire to drink and use drugs is lifted.
ADDICTION BLOG: What are some basic fundamental disciplines that a person in early recovery from addiction can adopt to decrease risk of relapse?
INTO ACTION TREATMENT: When an individual completes the treatment, he or she must continue practicing what they learned here.
To keep doing the work is critical. That’s paramount, because otherwise it’s too easy for an alcoholic and addict to go back into the old mode. Alcoholics and addicts, they don’t stay in neutral. They are either moving backward or forward. Moving forward is what is expected from every one of our clients for the rest of their life. That commitment is what we expect from each of our clients: to commit to doing something for themselves.
Regarding relapse rates and remission, I believe that what happens a lot of times is that the person does not do any work during treatment, then when they slip back to doing what they were doing, and when everyone around says “Oh, they just relapsed.” That’s simply not the case! They never did the work. If they never did the work, they’ve only been in remission. They’re doomed to use or drink again, and it’s just a matter of time of when.
When somebody does the work, and when they follow direction —and they do have clear-cut directions to follow when they leave my facility — then there is a chance for them to succeed in recovery. It is very important for them to continue the work that they do here for the rest of their lives! We give them the basic foundation, but they must continue to do they work if they want to avoid using drugs or alcohol for the rest of their lives.
ADDICTION BLOG: What kinds of holistic addiction treatment therapies don’t you use and why?
INTO ACTION TREATMENT: There is something we have not utilized as of yet, which is neurofeedback therapy. I am considering adding it to our program in the near future because of its potential to help clients learn self-regulation by developing and nurturing new patterns of thought.
ADDICTION BLOG: It seems like your treatment center relies heavily on 12-step recovery and psychotherapeutic models. In your opinion, what percentage of each should be included in any addiction treatment setting?
INTO ACTION TREATMENT: Our program is equally about 12 steps and holistic treatment because they are the same. I believe that 12-stepwork is holistic. It is natural. The whole 12-step process is the spiritual connection that in a sense is a holistic approach in itself.
We emphasize 12-step work in the form of a Big Book study, the Big Book, of course, being the basic text of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. We also emphasize the fact that this is not a religious program. However, for any alcoholic and addict it is vital that one be able to ask for help.
The way I look at the 12 steps is that they can bring about a realization of our highest potential. This begins by understanding that we have a problem; understanding that we ourselves cannot solve our problems and that we have to ask for help in order to move forward. We have to do a moral inventory to start looking at ourselves in the mirror objectively. That is where the 12 steps give us clear-cut directions and guidance to start building on the spiritual connections so that one can become honest with one’s self. For one to actually be able to ask oneself pertinent questions every time. When we feel resentful, for example, were we actually being selfish, dishonest, or self-serving? Then we actually start seeing that we are creating our own reality.That to me is the goal of the 12 steps as we use them.
That is what I see missing with majority of our clients, that ability to become responsible for oneself, which is what I call adulthood. For me, this means being able to take responsibility for my own actions in order to grow and move forward.
ADDICTION BLOG: What makes holistic addiction treatment so special?
INTO ACTION TREATMENT: Because in the end it pushes a person to change their thinking, and unless they change their thinking, absolutely nothing is going to happen. If there is no change in treatment, they are not going to change when they leave rehab. If they are not going to gain insight, they’re not going to change their thinking, and then the next drink or drug is simply inevitable.Or they’ll be white-knuckling it, which to me is very similar to suicide.
My goal is for the people who come through my treatment center to become free and happy.I believe that through following the direction of the therapist and the sponsor, utilizing all of the holistic modalities, and working intensely with the family, we get to that psychic change that is so paramount to recovery.
ADDICTION BLOG: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
INTO ACTION TREATMENT: Thank you for inviting me to this interview, I would like to add that I’m accessible by phone, anytime to anyone who calls my treatment center. Consultations are free,and if someone is seeking help for their loved one to get individualized attention, and first-rate treatment, unconstrained by a timeframe, then we are the place. We are a progress-based treatment center.
This is the biggest difference as opposed to other centers. A client’s length of stay depends on their progress and not on an insurance decision, or criteria set by insurance.If somebody is open and willing to get to work to do something miraculous for themselves, we are the place. If somebody does want to Change (notice the capital ‘C’), then we are the place.