What Does Holistic Mean?

What Does Holistic Mean?

By Jenny Hunt

“Holistic” is a word that has infiltrated popular conscience in recent years. People talk about holistic healing, holistic foods, and holistic therapy. But what does holistic mean? Holistic is derived from the Greek word “holos” meaning whole, all, or total. It is the idea that a natural system, like the human body, should be treated as a whole, instead of a collection of separate parts.

Holistic health is the practice of treating the human body as a whole. It is the idea that all parts of a person- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual- must be healthy and in balance in order for a person to recover from an ailment. Therefore, those who practice holistic healthcare not only address the physical symptoms of an illness, they also address the other aspects of the person.

Holistic health care has its roots in ancient medicine. For 6000 years, medical practitioners believed that physical ailments had roots in emotional and spiritual illness. In the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes presented his ideas of two substances, matter – material and immaterial. He believed that the body was material matter and followed the laws of physics and the soul was immaterial matter and did not follow physical laws. He also believed that there was a barrier between body and soul that could not be breached. This idea formed the basis of modern medicine. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that ideas began to change again and it was recognized that psychological and spiritual issues could affect physical health.

So what does holistic mean in terms of drug treatment? Holistic drug treatment treats the whole body. Addiction is a three-fold disease. It is a spiritual malady, a physical allergy, and a mental obsession. Holistic drug treatment treats the whole person-spiritual, physical, and mental. Holistic drug treatment employs practices to treat all three facets of the disease.

Treating the physical aspect of addiction is very important, obviously. This is the quantifiable aspect of addiction. You can observe a person’s physical symptoms when they are withdrawing from a substance. You can give them medications to relieve the discomfort. However, after 10 days, a person’s body is no longer dependent on the substance. If this were the only aspect of drug addiction, then anyone who has been through detox could stay sober forever. Rarely is this the case. Only when a person’s body and mind are free from drug addiction can you begin to treat the mental and spiritual portions of the disease.

The psychological aspect of the disease is addressed in treatment. You attend therapy to deal with the causes of the alcohol or drug addiction. This alone is not sufficient to lift the mental obsession, however. In order to truly be free of the mental obsession with drugs and alcohol, you must treat the spiritual malady. And this is the basis of holistic drug treatment-the idea that everything is connected. Through twelve steps and a relationship with a higher power, you will truly be able to conquer all aspects of the disease of addiction.