Alternative methods to treat opioid abuse and addiction

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Watch the report from Ali Gorman on Action News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2017. (WPVI)

Opioid abuse and addiction is an epidemic. Some say that even after you beat it, staying in recovery takes everything you've got.

There are traditional treatments, like counseling and medication. And along with those, there are also alternative therapies that can help.

Matt Kay is owner of East Coast Float Spa. He took us into a float therapy room where the tub inside has just 10 inches of water, but it is super-saturated with Epsom salt, which makes you float.

The room also takes away other senses - there's no light or sound.

Kay says people float for different reasons. For him, along with other therapies, it helps him stay off drugs. He had been battling an addiction to opioid painkillers that started after he was in a car accident.

He says float therapy is the most effective way for him to relax and meditate.

"Really being able to work through my problems in a method that I was not able to do so with traditional talk therapy or traditional anti-depressants," Kay said.

Jing Duan Yang is a fifth generation acupuncturist. At the Yang Institute, he's starting to see more people coming in for help staying in recovery.

Yang says accurate acupuncture can help by regulating neurotransmitters. Boosting these endorphins will promote a sense of wellbeing. It can also increase dopamine, which helps to decrease cravings.

And Yang says it also helps treat problems that may have led to addiction in the first place.

"So, acupuncture can help depression and anxiety by regulating the energy and the biochemistry," Yang said.

Another natural antidote for depression is exercise. Karen Fabio was struggling when she opened up to Andrew Meinster.

"I said, you know I was in such a bad mood over the weekend, I took some Xanax and swallowed it with gin. I didn't want to be awake. His exact response was 'not on my watch,'" Fabio said.

You see, Andrew had also struggled with addiction.

"Four years ago, I was on the street living in a crack house," Meinster said.

But on his 24th birthday, he flipped a switch. He went through a painful detox, and then found his way to the gym. He discovered a non-drug way to boost endorphins.

And he says fitness saved his life.

So, now he helps others stay in recovery with his training program called Trap Star Fitness.

Karen is now clean, she quit smoking, and she's lost 30 pounds.

"It has changed my life immensely, because now I know how to cope," Fabio said. "It's about taking something negative and replacing it with something positive."

Again, all of these therapies are done after the initial detox, and in many cases should be done with other more traditional therapies such as counseling.

There's not a lot of research on these alternatives methods for addiction recovery, but some experts say the more options we have, the more people we can help.

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