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Why Whole-Person Health Is Vital in Recovery

Healing healthily from substance use is not an easy feat. When seeking treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Rather than being treated for a diagnosis or symptoms, consider researching approaches that prioritize personal health and wellness. For instance, whole-person health is an approach that takes into account every part of what makes an individual who they are. At Sage Recovery, we prioritize the use of whole-person health to foster lasting wellness in all of our clients.

What Is Whole-Person Health?

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) explains, “Whole person health involves looking at the whole person—not just separate organs or body systems—and considering multiple factors that promote either health or disease.”

Furthermore, the NCCIH goes on to explain that whole-person health focuses on four areas that influence humans’ overall health:

  1. Biological
  2. Behavioral
  3. Social
  4. Environmental

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) describes, “Whole Health centers around what matters to you, not what is the matter with you.”

Understanding the Impact of Whole-Person Health

The main goal of whole-person health is to consider every aspect of the patient’s life and, therefore, encourage overall health while simultaneously predicting and preventing future diseases. NCCIH explains, “By looking at connections across biological, behavioral, social, and environmental domains, we can better understand how co-occurring conditions can arise from common, interrelated factors.”

Whole-person health is vital in recovery because it allows clinicians and the patient to evaluate potential hindrances and opportunities in the recovery process. Simply treating a substance use disorder (SUD) is not enough. The root of the SUD needs to be discovered, analyzed, and tended to before any sort of healing can take place. Whole-person health examines every aspect that could influence overall health, including the genes we’re born with and the environments we surround ourselves with.

How Biology Influences Health

Biology and genetics play a major role in our overall health. Starting in utero, the health of the mother, as well as any paternal genes that are inherited, significantly impact the child’s health for the rest of their life. Similarly, certain habits or tendencies, such as addiction and substance use, can also be passed down from generation to generation.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “Biological factors that can affect a person’s risk of addiction include their genes, stage of development, and even gender or ethnicity.” Furthermore, NIDA goes on to detail that certain genetics “account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s risk of addiction.”

As a result, considering the patient’s biological makeup is extremely vital in the recovery process. Evaluating these factors can heavily influence how effective or ineffective certain treatments are. In addition, it is also important to assess any potential physical or mental health conditions that might interact with medication-assisted treatments (MAT) while in recovery.

Other biological factors that could influence overall health and recovery include:

The Importance of Healthy Behaviors

Another important factor that is considered in whole-person health is an individual’s day-to-day behaviors. This can include elements such as:

The type of lifestyle the patient lives is extremely important to consider, especially when they’re trying to heal healthily from substance use. A multitude of studies show the direct correlations between diet and mental health, as well as linking exercise with mental health. The body’s systems cohesively work together to promote or demote wellness. If one part of the body is not being properly attended to, the rest of the body will eventually follow suit.

In addition to monitoring physical behaviors, it’s also vital to evaluate the patient’s coping skills and emotional health. This is key in any healing situation. For example, if the patient is struggling with SUD as a result of unresolved trauma, it is necessary to first address the trauma and its effects before effectively recovering from SUD.

Social and Environmental Influences

Clinicians also need to monitor the patient’s social and environmental influences. For example, one of the reasons group therapy is a common treatment approach is because studies have repeatedly proven that community is critical in the recovery process. Feelings of isolation and shame often drive substance use, whereas feelings of unity and acceptance create opportunities for compassion and accountability.

Just as healthy communities and environments can positively influence recovery, the same is true of unhealthy relationships and toxic environments. This is also why evaluating the patient’s relationships and support systems is crucial in the recovery process. Some people have a healthy support system and access to unlimited resources that can help them heal. Alternatively, some patients do not have any sort of positive support or access to resources. As a result, these patients are less likely to heal healthily and more likely to relapse and put themselves in potentially dangerous situations.

Whole-Person Health in Real Life

Now that it’s clear what whole-person health is and how it’s vital in the recovery process, we can examine how it can be applied in everyday life. Here at Sage Recovery, we understand that everyone has different needs, wants, and goals. As a result, we ensure that our licensed clinicians are experts in various treatment techniques. Recovery is not one-size-fits-all. It’s individual, unique, and personal, and the treatment should be, too.

While there is no sole treatment that encompasses all four areas of whole-person health, there are various treatment options that incorporate one or more of the important health elements.

Traditional Techniques

Some evidence-based techniques that are commonly used in whole-person health include:

Innovative Approaches to Treatment

Clinicians may also combine traditional techniques with complementary approaches, such as:

Here at Sage Recovery, we know how much courage it takes to make the first step toward recovery. Our trauma-informed staff are friendly, compassionate, empathetic, and supportive. We’re here to walk alongside you as you heal from the difficult things you’ve been through. We offer outpatient treatment for adolescents and adults, as well as residential treatment for adults. We believe there are multiple pathways to healing, so our innovative, holistic approaches ensure that you will be provided with a treatment plan as individual and unique as you are. Reach out to us at (512) 306-1394 when you’re ready to take that first step. We’re here to support you every step of the way.