Exploring Alternative Therapies for Addiction Recovery

If you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction, it might be good to incorporate alternative therapies. As mental health and medical professionals have studied addiction in more depth, they have learned that several forms of holistic or alternative therapy can provide better results for specific individuals. 

Marina Harbor Detox is a professional medical detox center in San Francisco offering holistic addiction therapy. Contact our admissions team today to learn more.

What Are Alternative Therapies in Recovery?

Alternative therapies in recovery are any form of treatment that is not categorized as psychotherapy. These modalities are sometimes referred to as holistic therapies. Some examples include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Wilderness therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindfulness
  • Biofeedback
  • Equine therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy

Are Alternative Therapies in Recovery Legitimate?

Absolutely! Alternative therapies are still therapies. They are still evidence-based practices that have been scientifically demonstrated to improve results. 

Equine Therapy

Equine Therapy is a form of treatment where you can care for and work with or ride horses. This treatment connects you to horses to encourage physical or emotional healing. Facilities allow you to work under supervision in a comfortable outdoor setting. For many clients, this improves communication compared to a stuffy, enclosed space.

Equine therapy can:

  • Encourage positive behaviors necessary for recovery
  • Decrease negative behaviors that increase the risk of relapse
  • Reduce stress
  • Control breathing
  • Encourage emotional awareness
  • Improve socialization

Equine therapy is more effective when it’s combined with things like cognitive behavioral therapy. Caring for horses boosts empathy, self-esteem, and confidence, while working as a team to care for or ride horses increases concentration, social engagement, and selflessness.

This goes hand in hand with the lessons learned in dialectical behavioral therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, focusing on negative automatic thoughts and replacing them with moderate ones. Equine therapy is complimentary because it allows you to find that disconnect between your perceived reality and reality and then make minor adjustments where necessary, regardless of the discomfort. 

Equine therapy, in particular, is one of the more popular forms of alternative Therapies in recovery because it offers therapeutic benefits as well as physical exercise and exposure to a lot of fun. Even individuals with physical limitations preventing them from participating in more strenuous activities can still join in therapeutic horse riding.


Biofeedback is another form of alternative therapy that helps combat the physiological and neurological changes that addiction can have on the brain and body. The brain and body can be changed structurally and functionally with continued drug or alcohol abuse as well as exposure to ongoing anger, anxiety, depression, or stress.

Biofeedback therapy can:

  • Improve attention
  • Adjust brain function
  • Moderate blood pressure
  • Alter breathing
  • Reduce impulsivity

When used as part of an alternative addiction treatment plan, it gives you better control over things like stress, offering improved stress management. It also helps moderate blood pressure and breathing, which go hand in hand to control anger responses. 

All of these skills contribute to long-term recovery by reducing stress responses, regulating emotions, and learning to improve your attention on the things that matter most.


Acupuncture is an alternative medicinal practice where solid, thin needles are inserted into specific points along the body to treat different conditions. These acupuncture points can alleviate muscular knots, increase blood flow, and help with recovery from addiction. 

Studies have shown that acupuncture is particularly effective in treating opioid addiction. Neurochemical and behavioral studies have found that acupuncture can reduce the negative and positive reinforcement from opioid addiction by:

  • Changing dopamine neurons
  • Modulating dopamine release
  • Adjusting GABA systems

Acupuncture, like many alternative therapies and recovery, is something that is best used in conjunction with other treatments like psychotherapy or medication. It can also be used with several other holistic programs like biofeedback or equine therapy to increase effectiveness.

Work with Marina Harbor for Alternative Therapy

If you are interested in alternative therapies for recovery, Marina Harbor is here. We understand that addiction changes your body’s chemistry. Detox can cause physical, emotional, and psychological stressors, but physical activity can help shift your perspective, improve your stress management, provide better sleep habits, boost the health of your immune system, and prevent relapse.

Our San Francisco drug detox center offers recovery programs are centered on alternative therapies that heavily incorporate physical activity as essential to lasting recovery. 

Research indicates that things like boredom contribute most heavily to relapse, especially early in recovery, so we provide several activities like hiking, dancing, walking, yoga, equine therapy, biofeedback, and acupuncture, all of which can be used to decrease your risk of relapse. 

Reach out to our team at 1-866-709-3085 to learn more about equine therapy, biofeedback, or acupuncture.

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Here at Marina Harbor Detox we understand that no two clients are alike. We offer each and every client a unique experience that fits their individual needs when seeking treatment for addiction. Our San Francisco drug and alcohol rehab center provides the perfect escape. Here you can focus on healing the core issues that lead to substance abuse in the first place, in a safe and comfortable environment. Our admissions coordinators are standing by day and night to help you find your personal solution. 

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