Using a Holistic Approach to Treat Addiction

It used to be, if you visited a physician for a medical exam, he or she would most likely ask you few if any questions at all about your lifestyle: what kind of food you ate each day, how well you slept each night, and whether or not you incorporated exercise into your life on a regular basis.

Today, it’s standard practice for many healthcare professionals to use a holistic approach in treating their patients. And most likely, when you step into your doctor’s office for a visit, your physician will not only pull out his or her stethoscope, he’ll also inquire about how much exercise you get each week, how much stress you experience in your life on a regular basis, and whether or not you toss and turn each night or get a good night’s sleep most nights of the week.

Furthermore, according to the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, an increasing number of Americans – more than 30 percent of adults and about 12 percent of children, in fact – use holistic approaches developed outside of mainstream or conventional medicine.

Nutrition part of holistic approach

Two Dreams Outer Banks Kitchen


When it comes to the specific treatment of addiction, Two Dreams strongly believes in a holistic approach in treating patients. 

For example, nutrition is an important part of the holistic approach and the recovery process at Two Dreams. The Two Dreams clinical staff works closely with each client to create a meal plan that reflects individual preferences and needs, while at the same time incorporating nutrient-rich foods into each diet and limiting sugar and caffeine intake. The typical well-balanced client’s meal is divided into quarters each day that includes: 6.2 ounces of grain per day, 2.6 cups of green vegetables per day, 2.1 cups of colorful veggies or fruit per day, 3.1 cups of dairy per day, and 4 ounces of protein (6 ounces for males) per day.

Two Dreams also has a communal kitchen that it keeps well-stocked with a wide variety of nutritious options. Clients begin each morning with a delicious smoothie comprised of Greek yogurt, juice and fruit/vegetables; they also are encouraged to snack on healthful foods such as edamame with sea salt, carrots or sliced red peppers with hummus, almonds and raisins, celery or peanut butter. On a typical day at Two Dreams, a client might choose from the following nutrient-rich breakfast, lunch and dinner options: (More choices are available at each meal.)

Breakfast:  Tortilla/scrambled eggs/black beans/salsa/half grapefruit OR a homemade bran muffin with raisins and nuts/Canadian bacon

Lunch:  3-bean veggie chili with brown rice OR tomato soup/half grilled cheese sandwich

Dinner: Baked fish/green veggies/colorful veggies/baked potato OR ground sirloin/green veggies/green veggies/black and red beans/brown rice

All of this emphasis on nutrition and making healthful food choices is part of using a holistic approach to treat addiction. By making wise food choices, Two Dreams clients can incorporate nutritious foods into their diets that can aid in their recovery process and help to prevent a relapse.

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is crucial

Another important component of the holistic approach is maintaining a regular sleep schedule. 

In fact, according to the National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, getting enough sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. Furthermore, says the Institute, sleep helps your brain work properly, and if you’re sleep-deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency has also linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior, adds the NIH. 

Furthermore, sleep deprivation can cause memory/cognitive dysfunction, weight gain, contribute to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, heart disease and other ailments. Managing a balanced sleep schedule is vitally important in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The Two Dreams staff works one-on-one with each client to develop an individualized sleep plan that they can use after leaving Two Dreams. Clinical staff members examine and interview each resident upon arrival to identify the root causes of any sleep disturbances and develop a treatment plan that addresses the client’s specific issues.

Exercise is a critical part of the holistic approach

Exercise, too plays an important role in the recovery process. Whether they’re recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, clients work hard every single day and deserve to relax and have some fun.

Furthermore, more and more research is showing that exercise plays a crucial role in addiction treatment and can reduce the inclination to experiment with various substances.


Ocean kayaking


In fact, according to researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, incorporating exercise into the addiction treatment process may help in reducing substance abuse. 

“The more likely you are to engage in physical activity, the less likely you are to abuse drugs,” adds Mark Smith, professor of psychology at Davidson College. “First, substance abuse often causes a decrease in physical activity,” he says. “If you know a substance abuser, that’s their full-time job. They don’t have the discretionary time and income to engage in physical activity and exercise. Exercise increases self-esteem, self-efficacy and feelings of well-being,” Smith notes. “All of these are negatively correlated with substance abuse. And all of these are protective factors against substance abuse.”

As part of the Two Dreams program, clients engage in a variety of activities in-between scheduled events. At the Outer Banks location, clients participate in a wide range of leisure-time beach activities including surfing, swimming, fishing and boating/jet-skiing.

They’re also able to engage in other fun activities including table tennis and hot-tub lounging.  In addition, each morning, residents take a sunrise walk on the beach, and five days a week, they engage in some sort of other physical activity such as yoga, tennis, basketball or a trip to the gym. Finally, clients have also gone on kayaking trips, horseback riding excursions and on nature hikes.


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