Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Exploring Complementary Therapies for Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a disease that affects everyone differently. There is no single approach to addiction treatment that works for everyone. It’s important to find the right plan that works for you. Complementary therapies for addiction are an important and effective part of our holistic approach to addiction treatment at the Massachusetts Center for Addiction. 

Complementary therapies are non-traditional addiction treatments. These alternative therapies are not designed to replace traditional drug or alcohol rehab programs. Instead, they enhance treatment progress in several ways. They help you develop new coping strategies and life skills. Additionally, they can change how you think about alcohol and substance use.

Are Complementary Therapies Effective?

Several studies have shown promising results, encouraging further research on complementary therapies for addiction recovery. At the Massachusetts Center for Addiction, we have observed firsthand the positive effects of various complementary therapies.

It’s important to understand that these treatments are meant to supplement, not replace, traditional addiction treatment methods. They are designed to be used alongside standard treatments to enhance recovery outcomes.

Just like with traditional addiction treatments, success depends largely on finding the right approach that works for you. 

At Massachusetts Center for Addiction, we’re committed to treating the whole person through a holistic approach. During your assessment, we will consider which complementary therapies might be effective in helping you overcome addiction. 

Complementary Therapy Examples 

There are many types of complementary therapies available. Some of the most common complementary therapies include mindfulness, yoga, art therapy, and acupuncture, but the complete list is more exhaustive than this. Complementary therapy can include approaches that range from massage and energy healing to nutritional therapy and Eastern medicine practices. 

Here are descriptions of five of the most commonly used complementary therapies for addiction recovery. 

Yoga & Meditation

Yoga and meditation are effective for relaxation, feeling centered, and relieving stress. Both evidence-based practices help to form a connection between the body and mind. This creates a greater sense of self-awareness and fosters self-confidence. 

When used with traditional addiction therapies, yoga and meditation can help reduce the risk of relapse and reduce cravings. Both can also serve as tools for coping with stress and addiction triggers in long-term recovery. Yoga and meditation are wonderful complements because once you feel comfortable with them, they can be used anywhere, anytime, to combat feelings of stress or temptation. 


Similar to yoga and meditation, mindfulness is a practice that promotes relaxation and self-awareness. Mindfulness is sometimes considered a subset of meditation, but the approach is slightly different. 

Mindfulness practices focus on being present in the moment. Unlike some forms of meditation where you might imagine yourself in a different place, mindfulness focuses on being present in the current moment. This practice is an excellent tool for confronting fears, cravings, stress, and feelings of guilt or inadequacy. It helps develop methods for managing and calming these emotions.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a powerful tool that can be used in addiction treatment. This therapy offers an outlet for emotions and feelings that might be difficult to articulate or share. This is an effective therapy for individuals who are more comfortable communicating in non-verbal ways. Art therapy is facilitated by an addiction therapist who has a level of expertise in this type of treatment. 

There are many different types of creative outlets that can be used as part of art therapy. Drawing, sculpture, and painting are just a few examples. 

Music Therapy

Music therapy offers a unique approach to addiction recovery. It employs music to address psychological, cognitive, and social needs. Qualified therapists use music therapy to help individuals engage in expressive activities such as singing, playing instruments, and songwriting. This form of therapy helps patients explore their emotions, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve communication skills.

By connecting with music, individuals can access and express feelings that are often hard to verbalize. Music therapy taps into brain areas impacted by addiction, providing a valuable tool for emotional processing and trauma recovery. It also serves as an effective complement to other treatment methods, offering a creative and soothing outlet for those in recovery.


Acupuncture, used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat a wide range of ailments, involves inserting small needles at very specific points on the body. The thought behind acupuncture for addiction treatment is that it activates certain brain pathways connected to addictive behaviors and cravings. When the needles are inserted, they stimulate the release of endorphins, potentially easing cravings and promoting a sense of relaxation. 

Acupuncture is a procedure that requires precision and should only be performed by an experienced and licensed practitioner. 

Equine Therapy

Equine therapy involves interactions with horses to help individuals in addiction recovery. This therapy does not necessarily involve riding; instead, patients often engage in activities like grooming, feeding, and leading horses under the guidance of a trained therapist. These interactions help build trust, teach responsibility, and improve communication skills.

Working with horses can be a calming experience, allowing individuals to connect with these sensitive animals. This connection can foster self-awareness and promote emotional healing. Equine therapy is praised for its effectiveness in helping people build confidence and reduce anxiety, making it a valuable part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Does Insurance Pay for Complementary Therapies for Addiction?

Whether or not insurance will pay for complementary treatments for addiction depends on several factors. These include differences in plans offered by insurance providers and how and when complementary therapies are used. 

We are witnessing a positive shift as more insurance providers begin to cover complementary or alternative therapies. These include treatments like acupuncture, massage, and various forms of energy healing, such as reiki, for specific conditions. However, it’s important to note that some alternative therapies do not require practitioners to be licensed. This lack of licensure often leads to insurance providers denying coverage for these therapies. 

Insurance coverage for complementary treatments may vary depending on how you access these services. If a treatment like yoga is part of an insurance-approved addiction recovery program and taught by a licensed addiction therapist, it is more likely to be covered by insurance.

The Massachusetts Center for Addiction is ready to assist you in understanding your insurance coverage and developing a treatment plan that reduces your out-of-pocket costs. We collaborate with many insurance providers and are in-network with companies such as Cigna, Aetna, and Tricare. 

Explore Complementary Therapies for Addiction Recovery

At Massachusetts Center for Addiction, we support you through your addiction recovery with a comprehensive approach that includes both traditional and complementary treatments for addiction. If you or your loved one are in need of treatment for addiction, we encourage you to contact us at 844-486-0671 for a confidential and free assessment.

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