Summary: There are many alternatives to rehab that can provide the help and support necessary for a successful recovery. This article examines some of the most promising and effective options.
Waiting to be admitted into a rehabilitation center can often leave those needing help in limbo, especially when demand for the services continues to rise.
There’s often a backlog for any type of traditional rehab, including outpatient and residential services.
It’s important to not give up – there’s a lot you can do in the meantime to improve your health.
Many of the alternative forms of rehab outlined below have achieved remarkable rates of success in their own rights, with or without traditional interventions following them.
Let’s consider what traditional rehab is before discussing what alternative therapies can offer.
What Is Traditional Rehab?
When we talk about traditional rehab, we’re usually referring to treatment in a clinical setting, with qualified medical practitioners in charge and various allied professionals working alongside them.
Here are a few types of traditional rehab:
Impatient services require you to check into a hospital or clinic for detoxing from the addictive substance.
This intense rehab is often reserved for those with severe addictions, or those who have additional physical or psychiatric conditions.
If you’re addicted to more than one substance, you might want to consider this form of rehab.
Outpatient services can involve various day-stay options or visits to a clinic or hospital, but you still go home between visits and to sleep.
This is a treatment option in a supportive residential setting.
It is not a hospital, but rather a long-term live-in situation in an enriching, substance-free environment.
Why Do People Go To Traditional Rehab?
Traditional rehab gives you a break from the factors and experiences that led you into addiction in the first place.
It also removes you completely from the scene of your addiction and the stresses associated with it.
13 Alternatives To Rehab
Not everyone requires traditional rehab or intense supervision.
The following alternatives to rehab are worth considering and, generally speaking, at least one of these will “feel right” to you:
Medicine is highly effective for managing withdrawal symptoms, especially for alcohol, smoking, and opioid addictions.
Not only that, it can also help the accompanying emotional stress and anxiety that goes both with the addiction and withdrawal.
There is a lot that we don’t understand about meditation, but we do know that it works directly on the brain.
Recent studies have indicated that the mindfulness aspect allows the brain to refocus negative thoughts and cravings, which in turn help with withdrawal symptoms and preventing relapse.
3. Recovery Coaching
Recovery coaching is offered either on a telephone basis or in person.
Sometimes called “peer recovery coaching,” it involves matching you up with a coach to mentor you and keep you accountable.
They also offer you strategies to manage temptation and withdrawal. This is particularly important if you’re still around other people who are addicts.
Many of the coaches are recovered addicts themselves, which makes them much more relatable, because they truly understand what addiction is like.
Therapy can help you to trace any historical factors that may have had a bearing on the problems that you are currently facing.
It can also help you to explore the reasons behind some of the choices you have made and offer you strategies for managing crises.
5. Intensive Outpatient Programs
These programs involve therapy and classes on a day-stay basis. It’s one of the most effective treatments possible on a par with actual inpatient rehab.
Intensive outpatient programs empower you to manage your addiction while still functioning in the “real world.”
6. Supplement and Nutrient Therapies
This is a fast-developing science.
For best results, a naturopath can advise you on what supplement and nutrient therapies to take. You can also source these therapies yourself from a pharmacy.
7. Peer Recovery Groups
You’re probably familiar with peer recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, but they are the tip of the iceberg.
There are many groups targeted to diverse sections of the community.
If it’s too early for you to think about a face-to-face group, there are online options available.
8. Natural Recovery
Natural recovery may be more common than you think. Sometimes, when people had no other options available to them, they were surprised to find that natural recovery worked.
This tends to be true of milder addictions.
However, there is some evidence that people have even been cured of severe addictions by replacing the addiction with new lifestyle choices, a hobby, or a cause.
9. Harm Reduction
This is a gentler step towards recovery. With harm reduction, you mitigate the risks involved with your addiction.
The first step is to make informed and responsible choices around your drug or alcohol consumption.
Massage integrates the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of yourself, which makes it a fantastic holistic tool or treatment in itself.
It can be used alone or in combination with other alternative or traditional treatment options.
Like massage, yoga is another holistic treatment approach that treats the whole person.
As well as transforming your health, both mental and physical, it has the potential to heal you. People who practice yoga become resilient to life’s challenges.
Acupuncture treats the whole person too.
The theory behind it is that it helps energy to move along meridians (the body’s energy lines).
By placing needles in the outer ear as well as other areas of the body, the function of the organs that are affected by addictions are stimulated.
Certain acupuncture points also work to promote relaxation and stress reduction, which is absolutely crucial to beating addiction.
This is an exciting new field that grew out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and was found to achieve good results.
Many aspects of rehab from consultations with medical practitioners, therapists, peer support groups, and even family telehealth sessions for inpatients lend themselves well to this mode of rehab.
Telehealth reminds you that you are never truly alone with your addiction.
Who Would Be A Good Candidate For Alternative Rehab?
If your addiction is on the milder side and you do not have a lot of symptoms, you might be a good candidate for alternative rehab.
We reiterate that alternative rehab highly depends on the severity of your condition and on the advice of your doctor.
As we’ve seen above, there are many promising alternatives to rehab.
Whether you seek an alternative method because of the long wait to access inpatient services, or because it is your personal preference, you do have options.
There is no “one size fits all” option, meaning that your treatment plan is unique to you. You can tailor the above recommendations to suit what is best for you.
Alternative rehab strategies are not for everyone, and it’s certainly a case-to-case situation!
Thanks for reading!
And please check out some other recent articles about psychology and therapy below:
- A new study on mindfulness for pain is the first to demonstrate brain changes from a standardized mindfulness course.
- The benefits of chair yoga also apply to socially isolated older adults with dementia.
- Despite common concerns that the social fabric is fraying, cooperation among strangers has gradually increased in the U.S. since the 1950s.
- Teletherapy is an increasingly popular way for people to get help. Find out whether it might be the right option for you.
- Being assertive can get you far in life, and learning more about assertiveness training is a big step in that direction. We show you how to get started.
- Wondering how to become a life coach? Find out why the field of life coaching is growing rapidly, and how you can get started.
References for this article
-  Zgierska, A., Rabago, D., Chawla, N., Kushner, K., Koehler, R., & Marlatt, A. (2009). Mindfulness meditation for substance use disorders: a systematic review.
-  McCarty, D., Braude, L., Lyman, D. R., Dougherty, R. H., Daniels, A. S., Ghose, S. S., & Delphin-Rittmon, M. E. (2014). Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: assessing the evidence.