02 August 2018

Holistic Addiction Treatment? It’s Putting Our Clients at the Heart of Our Programme
Tom Hegarty is the manager at Oasis Recovery in Bradford, a UKAT facility that provides residential drug and alcohol detoxification and addiction treatment. We asked Tom to help demystify the term ‘holistic addiction treatment’. What does it actually mean for clients who need help with their addictions? And why is it effective in helping people to achieve and maintain their recovery?

Firstly Tom, tell us what makes you feel proud of the addiction treatment programme at Oasis Recovery.

We had a guy turn up at our door the other day – 8 am, it was. He had a beaming smile across his face. He said he wanted to show his appreciation for what we’ve done for him. This guy used to be a prolific drug user. He’d suffered from drug addiction for most of his life. He has gone through so many challenges over the years. He called in to see us because he really wanted to thank all the team at Oasis Recovery. He gave all the staff a hug!

He spoke about how much he appreciated being challenged by us. It enabled him to create a shift after all the years he’d been in active addiction. As a result, his life has completely turned around. He is seeing his kids again now. He’s engaging wholeheartedly in 12-step recovery. It’s such a life-changing transformation – I feel incredibly proud of him and my team too.

We see people come in absolutely broken – not only from the harmful effects of their addiction, but many haven’t eaten properly in a long time. Our aim is for clients to leave us with a big smile on their face – and many of them do. They have not only physically detoxed but they have also benefited hugely from counselling and group support. We get a lot of thank you cards from clients, telling us how grateful they are.

So, cut through the jargon for us – what exactly is holistic addiction treatment?

Put simply, we look at the whole picture with all our clients. My team are very skilled and passionate about working in a holistic way.

So firstly, we assess every client to determine which addictions are present and to what extent. Typically, our clients have a primary addiction to alcohol or drugs. But very often, there are also co-occurring addictive disorders, which also have to be addressed in their treatment plan. We work with people who self-harm, for example, or have an eating disorder. Some of our clients are addicted to work, gambling or sex. There may also be a dual diagnosis with a mental health illness, such as personality disorder or depression.

During their residential stay, we provide intensive treatment and support, to help our clients face and overcome their addictions. This includes physical detoxification, overseen by our clinical team. We also provide a therapeutic programme of group and 1-2-1 counselling, complementary therapies and information sessions. We give guidance on nutrition and healthy sleep, for example, because they play such a vital role in stabilising physical and mental health. We introduce our clients to relaxation techniques, including meditation and mindfulness. We really encourage ongoing peer support, by making people aware of community recovery networks, as well as providing our free aftercare programme.

And we’re not afraid to try new things. We’ve recently taken on a kundalini yoga teacher and gong therapist, for example. She comes in once a week and the feedback we’ve received from clients so far has been excellent. There’s a chanting element to her sessions and people say this really helps them to get over their ego. They relax, laugh and get in touch with their emotions. It’s such a great way for people to overcome their inhibitions whilst in treatment. They learn how to express themselves in completely new ways. As well as the enjoyment from the session, clients get fantastic therapeutic benefits including stress relief and anger reduction.

Equally importantly, holistic addiction treatment is about working with every client to address wider issues beyond their addictions – the things that really affect their quality of life. This can include relationships with family and friends, housing needs, money and debt problems, building recovery support networks and more. We do loads of partnership working, to connect people up with relevant services.

This very personalised approach gives people the best chance of maintaining their addiction recovery after treatment at Oasis Recovery. When they’re back out in the world, they’ll have tools and strategies to deal with addiction triggers. They’ll also have new ideas about how to handle people or situations they find challenging.

So does the therapeutic approach change with each client?

What it means is we’re very eclectic in the addiction treatment programme that we deliver. It is very tailored – both in terms of the individual clients we’re working with and also how they work together in groups. We use many different treatment modalities because people respond to different techniques.

For example, we use dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) – it’s a talking therapy with some similarities to cognitive behavioural therapy, in that it helps clients to identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours. But DBT is also about encouraging our clients to develop a greater acceptance of themselves too. We do a lot of group sessions using DBT. It’s a great approach because it’s so interactive and completely responsive to the members of the group at the time. We cover many different topics and there’s a comprehensive workbook too, which our clients work through with our support. There are lots of different exercises within the DBT interventions that we offer, addressing emotional needs, as well as specific situations they might face in their recovery from addiction.

Our approach is about being very open-minded too. So, we work with 12-step recovery fellowships and with SMART recovery groups too. We invite these local groups to come into our centre. They do presentations and answer questions, so our clients can find out about the options for ongoing recovery support in the community. They can then make the choice that is right for them.

What’s the key to ensuring your clients feel safe and supported during their addiction treatment?

I’ve been managing Oasis Recovery since 2011 and I have to say, my team here is absolutely fantastic. For me, everything starts with the interactions between the staff. When they are really positive and warm, then our clients experience and benefit from that too.

My job is to maintain a very responsive and engaging team. It’s all about communicating really well and continuously nurturing them. I’m also very mindful when it comes to recruitment. It’s not just about qualifications for me. I pick people who are the right fit for our team – people who will help us deliver in a very committed way.

Our clients do pick up on this, actually. They often remark on how friendly and approachable the staff members are. People often talk about being scared before they arrive – but then feeling so welcomed when they get here.

It’s about going the extra mile for people – at a really difficult time in their lives. I think we do that at Bradford Oasis, I really do.

Find out more here about addiction treatment services at Oasis Recovery in Bradford. To speak in confidence about drug and alcohol detoxification and addiction rehabilitation, call 0203 733 5467 or email info@ukat.co.uk with your name, message and a contact telephone number.

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