Substance abuse can quickly spiral out of control, or it can slowly chip away at everything good in your life. Either way, professional help is almost always needed to overcome an addiction for the long-term.

This is because addiction changes the way your brain functions, and it affects your thought and behavior patterns. Successful recovery requires re-learning healthy ways of thinking and behaving. It requires addressing the underlying issues that led to substance abuse in the first place. And it requires finding joy, purpose, and meaning in a life without drugs or alcohol.

There is no single pathway to recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, but a holistic approach that includes both traditional and complementary therapies offers the best possible outcomes. What works for one individual may not work for another, which is why an individualized treatment plan is crucial for success.

A holistic program addresses a wide range of issues related to your physical, mental and spiritual health. A high-quality treatment program will offer an individualized, holistic recovery plan that draws on both traditional and complementary therapies for whole-person healing.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most commonly used traditional therapy in addiction treatment. This “talk” therapy helps you evaluate your thoughts, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs and identify those that are unhealthy. It helps you learn to replace these with healthier ways of behaving and thinking about your addiction, yourself and the world around you. It also helps you develop a toolkit of skills and strategies to address issues like cravings, stress and other powerful triggers for relapse.

Complementary therapies are those which don’t fall into the mainstream. Complementary therapies aren’t generally effective on their own for treating addiction, but when used along with traditional therapies, they help you look at old problems in new ways and from a variety of angles. Most are potent stress relievers, which is essential in recovery.

Here, we will examine ten complementary therapies commonly used in an addiction treatment setting. Adding one or more of these to your treatment plan will enhance your experience in treatment and improve your chances of long-term sobriety.

Why Complementary Therapies?

Complementary therapies have numerous benefits for people in recovery, according to a study by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors. They improve engagement and retention in treatment, and they offer improved treatment outcomes. They help you develop essential skills to reduce your risk of relapse, and they improve your overall health and well-being.

Specific benefits of complementary therapies for addiction recovery include:

  • Stress relief
  • Greater self-awareness
  • Greater spiritual awareness
  • Improved mood
  • Improved social functioning
  • Decreased symptoms of mental illness

Complementary therapies enhance your treatment experience and help you get the most benefits from treatment. The following are just the beginning of a long list of complementary therapies that can help you end your addiction and improve your life across all domains.

Art Therapy

Art therapy helps you express yourself through creative exercises that help you to make sense of difficult emotions and experiences…



  1. Understanding Drug Use and Addiction. (2016, August). Retrieved from
  2. Traditional, Alternative, or Complementary Therapies, in Addiction Treatment (TATAC) Report: National and State Profiles. (n.d.). Retrieved from