When used alongside traditional addiction treatment, complementary and alternative therapies may increase retention in rehab by offering patients a broader array of services.1 In fact, some studies have shown that greater program participation contributed to better therapeutic relationships—both of which encourage positive changes in treatment and longer retention.1,2
To enhance our patient’s experience, AAC offers a variety of alternative therapies across our facilities with everything from equine and pet therapy to music, art and meditation programs. Depending on location, these programs are available to all patients and are overseen by our licensed therapists.
Alternative Therapies Offered At Our Facilities
Equine therapy, also known as horse-assisted therapy, involves horses in the therapeutic process as a complement to standard treatment. Although more studies are needed regarding the benefits of equine therapy, one study found that the patient–horse relationship was an emotional support and important facilitator of a positive self-construct during treatment.2
Further, the juxtaposition of a less verbal therapeutic environment (i.e., outdoors in a stable) compared with the verbal and enclosed atmosphere of the therapy room can be more beneficial for some clients.2
At Oxford Treatment Center in Mississippi, equine therapy is integrated into our programming for all patients. While there, you’ll begin by caring for the animal and building up a trust between each other. Once a connection is made, you’ll eventually be able to ride the horses. Because of our new arena, this therapy is also offered year-round.
Music therapy addresses the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social needs of individuals through their therapeutic relationship with music.3 It is thought to help patients tap into needs and emotions that may otherwise be difficult to communicate or express.4
For those struggling with addiction, music therapy has been found to provide a number of benefits such as positive emotional changes and a decrease in anxiety, anger, depression, and stress.4 It can also be beneficial for those with other co-occurring health conditions such as physical disabilities, mental health issues, aging-related conditions, brain injuries, and even those suffering from acute and chronic pain.5
Music therapy includes relaxation training, musical games, songwriting, lyric analysis, and creating music based on feelings, or other topics pertinent to treatment. These interventions can promote wellness, enhance memory, and alleviate pain.6 The active use of music therapy interventions in certain setting has also resulted in a shorter treatment periods (i.e., length of stay) and more efficient responses to a patient’s intervention plan.7
At Oxford Treatment Center, our licensed music therapist will work with you to articulate past traumas in order to help you move forward. A typical music therapy session may involve several different types of music, generally based on your personal preferences. During this time, you may spend time playing an instrument, listening to music or writing out lyrics. Following each activity, you may be asked to discuss your thoughts, feelings, opinions or memories in order for your therapist to draw connections between those feelings and your past experiences.
Art therapy allows patients to express themselves through non-verbal, creative and imaginative exercises.4 It includes an array of activities such as drawing or painting your emotions, stress painting (i.e., painting while feeling anxious), creating sculptures, and starting an art journal.4
Some studies have shown that art therapy, when used in addiction treatment, has been shown to assist patients in reducing opposition to alcoholism treatment, decrease denial, lessen shame, and provide an outlet for communication.4 It may also motivate patients to work toward change in their lives by helping them go from reflection and into a more active state.4
Offered across most of our facilities, our art therapy specialists will work with you in a variety of mediums in order to off you a unique way to express your emotions as you work toward recovery. One example of this may be choosing to stress paint when you are in a stressful moment to relieve your anxiety as soon as it happens. The benefits of this type of proactive approach can help individuals turn to art instead of alcohol or drugs for relief. Painting would typically be done until those negative emotions subside.
Yoga & Meditation
For centuries, yoga and meditation have been practiced as a way to take care of not only the body, but the mind as well. As a type of holistic intervention for addiction, yoga has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve physical and mental health in conjunction with standard recovery programming.8
Pathways in the brain that are connected to decision-making, impulse control, pleasure, and emotions may be negatively impacted when an individual is struggling with alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Yoga helps to restore some of these imbalances by offering:
- Pain relief.
- Increased energy levels.
- Emotional healing.
- Reduction in fatigue.
- Stress relief.
- Increased physical stamina and strength.
- Increased self-awareness.
- Heightened self-confidence and improved self-image.
- Better sleep.
When paired with meditation and mindfulness, yoga can be a calming experience for patients and allow them to re-center themselves when triggered or considering relapse so that they can stay focused on recovery. Within most of our facilities, you’ll be able to work with certified yoga and mindfulness instructors to learn alternative ways to relax and digest a day of treatment.
Biofeedback is any method or process in which an external device generates information about an individual’s physiological responses in order to then regulate those responses and receive feedback on changes in the physiological responses.9 It is a mind-body technique that requires individuals to actively participate in changing their physiology using auditory and visual images with the help of a practitioner to direct the therapy sessions.10
Similar to wearable devices such as sports watches that you see today, biofeedback devices can monitor things such as a person’s heart rate, body temperature, respiration, sleep habits, or menstrual cycles. Within addiction treatment, biofeedback has shown promise for alcohol dependence as a supplement to existing treatment protocols.11
During biofeedback therapy sessions, you’ll be guided through a series of physical and mental exercises while attached to certain monitoring devices. You’ll then be provided immediate feedback on the success of these exercises as well as a sound or visual alert when the body’s desired change has fully been reached.
. Yih-Ing Hser, Ph.D., Elizabeth Evans, M.A., David Huang, Dr.P.H., and Douglas M. Anglin, Ph.D. (2004). Relationship Between Drug Treatment Services, Retention, and Outcomes. Psychiatric Services; 55(7), 767-774.
. Kern-Godal, A., Brenna, I.H., Arnevik, E.A., & Ravndal, E. (2016). More than just a break From treatment: How substance use disorder patients experience the stable environment In horse-assisted therapy.
. American Music Therapy Association. (2020). What is music therapy?
. Aletraris, L., Paino, M., Ride, B. (2014). The use of art and music therapy in substance abuse treatment programs. Journal of Addictions Nursing; 25(4): 190–196.
. American Music Therapy Association. (n.d.). How to find a music therapist.
. American Music Therapy Association. (n.d.). What is music therapy?
. American Music Therapy Association. (n.d.). Music Therapy Interventions in Trauma, Depression, & Substance Abuse: Selected References and Key Findings.
. Pooja, PK., Parmar, A., Balhara, YPS. (2018). Role of yoga in management of substance-use disorders: a narrative review. Journal of Neuroscience in Rural Practice; 9(1): 117–122.
. Elise E. Labbé. (2001). 4 – Biofeedback. Assessment and Therapy: Specialty Articles from the Encyclopedia of Mental Health, 37-45.
. Frank, DL., Khorshid, L., McKee, MG. Biofeedback in medicine: who, when, why, and how? Mental Health in Family Medicine; 7(2): 85–91.
. Cox, W. M., Subramanian, L., Linden, D. E., Lührs, M., et. al. (2016). Neurofeedback training for alcohol dependence versus treatment as usual: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 17(1), 480.