Seeing the “Whole Person” in Treatment for Addiction

By April 27, 2021Addiction, Treatment
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When a person is living with addiction, it affects many aspects of their life. Therefore, when they seek care, treatment should address the whole person’s needs to be successful. Incorporating various rehabilitative services into a comprehensive treatment plan should reflect the wide variety of needs individuals may have, including medical, psychological, physical, and social needs. Additionally, treatment should take into account a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture to ensure care is suitable and appropriate for all the aspects of a person’s life. 

People seeking treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) have ongoing experiences that may not always be seen or noticed by health care professionals. To provide the best care, it is essential for professionals to “see” the whole person, not just the aspects they are comfortable working with or acknowledging. 

Sometimes, there may be pre-conceived perspectives about an individual, but this only limits one’s ability to be open-minded and give the best care possible. To truly “see” a person seeking treatment for a SUD requires treatment professionals to adopt objective perspectives to be fully engaged and discover the client’s fears, motivations, values, beliefs, wants, and needs. Holistically seeing a client also requires taking into account their cultural experiences and identities. These cultural experiences provide a framework for how clients, families, and communities may define health, SUD, treatment, and recovery.

Whole-Person Care Approach

Whole-person care considers that addiction is not just a physical affliction. It is also not solely a mental or emotional issue either. The holistic approach treats the entire person and addresses behaviors that cause and enable addiction. It focuses on treating the body, mind, spirit, and other factors that impact a person’s life. It can help individuals discover the root causes of their addiction, potential triggers and successfully build and adopt a long-lasting recovery plan. Because addiction can disrupt every aspect of a person’s life, providing an environment where the whole person can heal is essential. 

While treatment plans may vary depending on the specific needs of the individual, some courses of treatment for whole-person care approach can include:

  • Detoxification
  • Medication management
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapies
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Personal training and nutrition
  • Alternative therapies, such as art, sports, or performance
  • Breathwork, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga
  • Educational sessions
  • Recovery-orientated skills
  • Trauma care
  • Relapse prevention

Treating the Whole Body 

Treating and seeing the whole person also includes caring for the mind, body, and spirit:

  • Mind: Helping clients develop skills to look inward and assess how their thoughts work can help them come to terms with what led them to seek out substances in the first place. Taking an introspective approach can also help them address and learn new skills to cope with these problems in healthy ways.
  • Body: In addition to medical treatment options, other treatments such as exercise, nutritional education, and developing healthy eating habits can help an individual’s physical body heal and recuperate from substance abuse. It is also essential to determine if the client has any other mental or physical health issues that may affect their recovery. 
  • Spirit: Focusing on therapies such as breathwork, meditation, yoga, and more can help individuals feel more in tune with themselves and the world around them. These modalities can also be used as healthy coping practices in recovery.

Cultural Experiences and Identities

A person’s culture encompasses a body of knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors that can govern every aspect of their life. It embodies their identification, language, thoughts, actions, customs, ideas, and values. It is essential not to be blind to a person’s cultural identities. By practicing cultural sensitivity, providers can remain willing and open to demonstrate respect when interacting with those whose cultural identities, values, and worldviews may differ from their own. In addition to being respectful and mindful, considering these socio-cultural factors when assessing and individualizing treatment is crucial for successfully treating the whole person in recovery.

Every person has a unique socio-cultural background that consists of varying experiences and beliefs that can impact their recovery journey. For those with a SUD, this is an additional identity that can come with its own stigma and stereotypes that can have an impact on the recovery process. Being willing to see and understand someone’s life experiences is critical to treating the whole person. Addiction is a disease that transcends social identities, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class, and religion; it can affect anyone. Because addiction professionals work with individuals of different backgrounds, they must remain open-minded and culturally sensitive in order to create a safe and inclusive treatment environment.

Seeing the whole person is essential for effective addiction treatment and long-term recovery. Because addiction affects many aspects of a person’s life, it is vital to address all of these areas. These may include physical, mental, medical, and social needs. Seeing the whole person also requires addiction professionals to be aware of a person’s cultural background when assessing and individualizing treatment plans so that they are most suitable. This is essential because a person’s culture provides the framework for defining health, wellbeing, substance abuse, treatment, and recovery. For each person, these aspects of recovery may mean different things. At Alta Centers, we understand the importance of treating the whole person and focus on integrating programs into a person’s life. As a premier substance abuse treatment center in the serene Hollywood Hills, we provide the opportunity for you to get better while continuing to pursue your goals and aspirations. Call (888) 202-2583.  

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