- Better Focus and Memory. …
- Reduce Heart Attack and Cancer Risk. …
- Look Younger and Lose Weight. …
- You’ll Sleep Better. …
- Increase Self-Esteem and Mental Health. …
- You’ll Have Better Relationships.
- Improved physical health. …
- The ability to handle life on life’s terms. …
- Freedom from social crutches. …
- Improved mental health. …
- The ability to inspire others. …
- Freedom from chemical dependence. …
- Improved emotional well-being. …
- The ability to overcome adversity
- Look the person in the eye.
- In a firm voice, tell the person you don’t want to drink or use drugs. …
- Give a reason why you don’t want to drink or use drugs. …
- Ask the person not to ask you to drink or use drugs again. …
- If you notice that someone does have drugs, leave the area.
- An inability to stop.
- Changes in mood, appetite, and sleep.
- Continuing despite negative consequences.
- Engaging in risky behaviors.
- Feeling preoccupied with the substance or behavior.
- Join a support group. …
- Be open. …
- Talk, talk talk! …
- Stay in the present moment. …
- Identify your danger zones. …
- Make sure to get some exercise. …
- Give back.
- Enlarged pupils, bloodshot or glassy eyes.
- Increased energy and confidence.
- Loss of inhibitions.
- Loss of coordination.
- Aggressive behavior.
- Trembling, twitches.
- Paranoia (being extremely suspicious)
- Learn to Set SMART Goals. …
- Build Habits to Stay Busy. …
- Sweat it out. …
- Cut out toxic relationships. …
- Utilize support systems. …
- Practice positive self-talk. …
- Adopt a pet. …
- Walk away from stress.
Exercise or playing sports releases natural endorphins and hormones that make your body feel good. Find new hobbies, such as reading, painting, gardening, woodworking, etc. Learn a new language. Volunteer around your neighborhood.
- Family history of addiction. Drug addiction is more common in some families and likely involves genetic predisposition. …
- Mental health disorder. …
- Peer pressure. …
- Lack of family involvement. …
- Early use. …
- Taking a highly addictive drug.
- eat dark chocolate.
- exercise (any form of exercise will do, but exercising in a group is even better)
- have sex.
- create music or art.
- have a glass of wine.
- get acupuncture.
- Probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that line your digestive tract. …
- Mucuna Pruriens. Mucuna pruriens is a type of tropical bean native to parts of Africa, India, and Southern China ( 11 ). …
- Ginkgo Biloba. …
- Curcumin. …
- Oregano Oil. …
- Magnesium. …
- Green Tea. …
- Vitamin D.
- FIsh Oil
- Berberine is an active component present in and extracted from certain plants and herbs.It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years and has recently gained popularity as a natural supplement. Several animal studies show that berberine increases dopamine levels and may help fight depression and anxiety
If you’re interested in a holistic approach to addressing your substance abuse issues, massage therapy may be an option to consider. Although it’s not a commonly used part of addiction treatment, massage therapy offers several benefits to people in recovery. Here are some of the reasons why:
1. Promotes Detoxification
The squeezing and pulling motions we associate with a professional massage do more than just feel good. They help flush lactic acid from the muscles and boost blood flow to the limbs. This improvement in vascular function continues for several days after the massage has ended, which is why professional athletes often rely on massage to keep them in competitive shape.
Since massage helps improve circulation, it can aid in the detoxification process by allowing for a more efficient expulsion of toxic waste products away from the body. The invigoration of blood and lymphatic fluid also helps to promote better utilization of oxygen-rich nutrition into the various organs and tissues.
2. Releases Endorphins
After the detoxification stage of addiction treatment, the body’s neurochemistry requires time to get back in balance. Drug and alcohol abuse prevents the release of natural endorphins, which means someone who is newly sober needs a little extra help convincing the body to manufacture these “feel good” chemicals.
Research has shown massage therapy increases the number of beta-endorphins in the blood. Manufactured in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, beta-endorphins offer a chemical-free way for those in recovery to feel more like themselves. If you’re engaged in a regular exercise program as well as massage therapy, these benefits are further enhanced.
3. Reduces Chronic Pain
For someone who turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with chronic pain, massage can be a way to heal the body. Regular massage can lower pain levels and promote a more restful sleep—leading to improved mood and energy throughout the day.
If you suffer from opioid addiction related to chronic pain, regular massage therapy sessions can be particularly beneficial. Recovering prescription opioid abusers are often reluctant to use any type of pain medication for fear of relapse, but massage can be combined with alternative treatments such as yoga and acupuncture to naturally increase the body’s serotonin levels.
4. Reduces Stress
Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and create mood disturbances. Massage therapy helps those in recovery feel more relaxed and in control of their newfound sobriety by lowering cortisol levels.
Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. It increases glucose in the bloodstream and increases the availability of hormones to promote tissue repair, helping the body to be primed for a “fight or flight” situation. Although this is helpful when you’re actually under attack, an excess of cortisol can lead to stress-related problems such as weight gain, digestive problems, headaches, sleep disturbance, and difficulty concentrating.
5. Addresses Co-Occurring Disorders
If you suffer from co-occurring disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD, massage therapy can help by triggering the body’s relaxation response. It’s not a substitute for talk therapy, but massage can help you feel more open and comfortable expressing your emotions. This can enhance the effectiveness of your overall treatment plan, reducing the urge to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
6. Helps Overcome a Fear of Touch
If you’ve been physically or sexually abused in the past, touch may be associated with negative feelings. Massage therapy encourages the brain to associate physical contact with more positive sensations.
Psychologists who study trauma have stated that being a victim of abuse undermines five of our most basic human needs: safety, trust, control over one’s life, feeling of value, and experiencing closeness with others. The intimacy of massage therapy provides a safe and therapeutic way to meet these needs, thus offering a foundation for healing.
7. Enhances Self-Awareness
An essential part of addiction recovery involves learning to manage personal addiction triggers. Understanding how feelings of boredom, anger, frustration, or anxiety trigger the urge to use helps you be proactive in managing your sobriety.
Regular massage helps build an awareness of your own body, including where tension exists and patterns that can lead to an increase in negative emotions. This can make it easier to develop productive strategies for controlling cravings and avoiding relapse.
How to Incorporate Massage Therapy into Your Recovery
Massage therapy can’t cure addiction on its own, but the guidance of a qualified massage therapist can offer numerous benefits as part of a broader evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment program. If you’re interested in incorporating massage therapy into your treatment, this issue can be discussed with your counselor as you’re developing your recovery plan.
An effective detox treatment that many people are not aware of is massage therapy for addiction recovery.
When the body is withdrawing from drugs or alcohol during detox, most patients experience physical symptoms ranging from mild to severe, making the body uncomfortable or painful.
While the first few days and weeks are the most difficult, the rehabilitation period following detox is also a challenge as patients learn to manage their behaviors and emotions while still experiencing physical symptoms from time to time.
Many people experience physical symptoms such as sore muscles and tension for months after their detox but don’t always know why they feel the way they do. Some people may not be able to verbalize or articulate their thoughts and feelings — this is when therapeutic massage for addiction recovery can be most beneficial.
A holistic rehab approach to healing treats your mind, body, and spirit as one. Many treatments focus on the mind, such as behavior therapy and group counseling. While these are helpful if the patient is willing and able to express themselves, therapeutic massage can be a pathway to work out inner tensions without any words.
Why Massage Therapy for Addiction Recovery May Create an Emotional Response
Many patients come from a place where touching was associated with negative feelings and may initially be uncomfortable with someone touching them. Massage introduces a way to rewire the brain to associate touch in a more positive light. During a massage session, patients may cry or feel sad — all perfectly normal emotional responses.
With continued massage therapy, patients can learn to trust again and experience the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of therapeutic touch.
Benefits of Touch
An experienced and compassionate massage therapist can do wonders for the healing process. Massage therapy for addiction recovery is one of the most popular holistic services at Beachway Therapy Center and works in conjunction with other fitness treatments for addiction rehab.
A few benefits and side effects of therapeutic massage include:
- Release of ‘feel-good hormones. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage helps to increase serotonin and dopamine (feel-good hormones) and decreases cortisol related to stress. During detox and withdrawal, dopamine levels drop dramatically, making for uncomfortable or even painful sensations. Therapeutic massage focuses on the body’s pressure points which are linked to the brain’s vagus nerve. This can also help lower heart rate and blood pressure.
- Reduce agitation and anxiety and ease sleep problems.
- Provides a natural, alternative method of healing, free of drugs.
- Helps with the removal of metabolic waste. Therapeutic massage triggers or stimulates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. This, in turn, can increase circulation and promote the effectiveness of the lymph system. The lymph system helps alleviate pain symptoms and is responsible for removing the body’s metabolic waste build-up.
- Provides the client with a connection to their body and improves or increases body awareness.
- Builds trust.
Learn how massage therapy can help people recovering from addiction.
When Brendan C., a Chicago-based marathon runner, and coach, and recovering alcoholic with 20 years of sobriety under his belt, went for a recent massage with his regular therapist, the muscles in his calves and lower back were intractable. His therapist asked him what was going on. Brendan said he had no idea.
The therapist continued working on him. As she did, Brendan began to feel profoundly sad. He realized he was finally feeling the stress fall-out of the recent break-up of a long-time relationship. Only then did his muscles begin to release. “That’s the thing with addicts,” he says, wryly. “We don’t always know what’s going on with us.”
This emotional disassociation can often be a double whammy for those struggling with addictions. “We live in a culture that doesn’t do a good job teaching anyone how to relax, both physically and mentally,” says Jennifer Broadwell, DOM, ADS, an acupuncturist and director of the Wellness Spot, an integrative health center affiliated with the Florida House Experience, a rehab facility based in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
However, this could be changing. More and more, centers such as the Wellness Spot offer a host of non-talk therapies, including massage, as part of their recovery programs. In fact, massage is one of the most popular offerings at the Wellness Spot, with the six therapists doing approximately 200 massages a week.
The center also offers acupuncture, chiropractic services, yoga, meditation, and nutritional counseling. Through all of these modalities, but especially massage, “Clients can now feel what it’s like to be present in their own bodies,” says Broadwell.
The Long Road
Recovery is a process, and a difficult one. “Often, the client cannot even articulate what is going on,” Broadwell says. “Because massage is not a talk therapy, it can meet them wherever they are, even if they don’t have the skills to tell us.”
Maureen Schwehr, NMD, a naturopathic physician and craniosacral instructor who works at the integrative clinic at Sierra Tucson, an in-patient rehab facility near Tucson, Arizona, says bodywork offerings are invaluable to the rehab clients, almost all of whom choose to participate in them. The massage offerings at Sierra Tucson include Swedish massage, myofascial release, zero balancings, shiatsu, SomatoEmotional Release, and Chi Nei Tsang, a type of Chinese abdomen massage.
Schwehr says that most conventional therapy for recovery focuses on the mind. Once you start considering a mind/body/spirit model, she explains, you have more treatment options. She thinks of the connection this way: “The spirit is who we really are. Our mind is our thinking brain, and our body houses this. If you’re an addict, you often have to ignore your body, because you are, in essence, hurting your ‘house.’” Addicts often continue their destructive behavior by not checking in with their ‘home,’ or their body, she says.
Of course, destructive addictive behavior can have ramifications far beyond the individual addict. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addictions impact nearly all American families in some way. Alcohol, nicotine, and illegal substances alone cost more than half a trillion dollars a year, in everything from health care costs to crime to accidents to special services in education.
The jury is still out on what causes addiction—most experts say it’s a combination of physiological susceptibility and environment. However, nearly everyone agrees that recovery is not about simple willpower. As one well-known Alcoholics, Anonymous aphorism says, “We’re sick people trying to get better, not bad people trying to be good.”
Gabor Mate, M.D., a physician who worked with addicts in the drug-infested Downtown Eastside of Vancouver for years and author of In the Realm of the Hungry Ghost: Close encounters with addiction, says that addiction seems designed to help users escape the pain. “All addictions serve as distractions at the very least,” he says.
Nearly any behavior can be addictive—even seemingly benign activities such as shopping, eating, and sex. Mate says it really doesn’t matter what the “drug” of choice is—all addictions involve the same brain circuits and brain chemicals. The NIDA says that when addicts get a hit of their drug of choice, dopamine—the feel-good neurotransmitter—floods their brain’s reward system.
The Benefits of Massage & Addiction
This may be why massage, which has been proven to increase dopamine and serotonin and decrease cortisol, can help those in recovery. Schwehr says this piece is crucial, especially in the early stages of withdrawal when dopamine often drops significantly. “This can be a very uncomfortable time,” she says.
Other physiological and emotional issues in recovery include pain, agitation, anxiety, and sleep problems. Massage—nearly any kind of massage—also helps with all of these, says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the University of Miami’s School of Medicine’s Touch Research Institute, which studies massage. “The body releases fewer stress hormones when being massaged,” Field says. Stress hormones, including cortisol, weaken the immune system and can lead to increased pain.“ This becomes, a vicious cycle,” Field says, “one that massage can help break.”
Also, in a study published in 2002, fibromyalgia patients, after receiving massage twice weekly for five weeks, slept and felt better. Levels of neurotransmitter substance P—which your body emits when you are sleep deprived—decreased. “We found a direct relationship,” says Field.
Massage also helps with overall relaxation by stimulating pressure receptors, which enhance vagal activity. Since the vagus nerve is one of the 12 cranial nerves in the brain, this decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases stress hormones, according to Field. “You will sleep better, be less anxious,” says Field. “It’s a whole chemical reaction that is happening.”
Even those who are going through withdrawal from alcohol, cocaine, or opioids relaxed more deeply with a simple chair massage than with 20-minute “relaxation sessions,” where participants sat in a quiet room and focused on their breathing. And those who received the massage sustained the relaxation benefits for 24 hours.
On a more superficial level, clients often just feel better after a massage, says Broadwell. “We’re able to show them, ‘This is what relaxation feels like,” she says. “Someone puts healing hands on you, and suddenly you become aware,” Mate says. “Often people say, ‘I never knew I was that sad/happy.’” To this end, massage therapists may have an advantage over medical doctors like him when working with this clientele, says Mate.
“Massage therapists get the stress/disease connection more than doctors do,” he says. “They actually can feel when a client is holding some tension. Physicians don’t put their hands on people like that.”
In Mate’s experience, most of the addicts he worked with—if not all—suffered early life trauma. In fact, he sees childhood trauma and emotional loss as the template for addictions. Many had boundaries violated. Therefore, tread carefully. Ground yourself first. “Make sure what you’re doing is to help them—not to be a hero, or to save anyone,” he says. If a client relapses, he says, and you get angry with them, then you are in a sense violating their boundaries. “Whatever happens to them, don’t take it personally,” Mate adds.
Diane Ansel, a Chicago-based massage therapist, says consider yourself a guide more than anything. “You work on them, and let it go. It’s up to them to turn it around,” she explains.
What you can offer, she says, is simple self-care techniques for between sessions. Ansel says she often takes inspiration in a long-told story of Gandhi. “I love the story of a mother who came to Gandhi and asked him to tell her child not to eat sugar,” she says. “Gandhi said to come back next week. When they returned, Gandhi simply told the child, ‘Stop eating sugar.’ When the mother asked, why did they have to go and return for that? He replied, ‘I hadn’t given up sugar yet.’”
Mate says we can’t all wait until we’re perfect in order to help others. “To the extent that you haven’t dealt with your own stuff—or glimpsed your own possibilities—for you can only take people as far as you can go yourself. But no one ever finishes, so you don’t have to wait, just be aware. It takes a lot of self-awareness,” he says.
He also says that, in essence, all addictions are about self-soothing. Therefore, giving them a pathway with which they can connect to their bodies can be enormously empowering. Broadwell sees this with the clients at her wellness center all the time.
The clients start to realize, she says, that the “medicine” is inside of them. “This is a great paradigm shift,” she explains. First, she sees the effects of massage on the faces of the clients. “And then we hear it everyday inpatient feedback: That the chronic pain is starting to improve, that they can now sleep with less or no medication,” she adds.
Schwehr says that one of her clients told her that the massage changed her experience at the rehab facility by “100 percent.” Another client told her that the bodywork she had done allowed her to feel connected to her body in a way she had never felt before.
Massage can even help with some basic rewiring of our brains, knowing what we know now about its neuroplasticity. Often, says Mate, early touch experiences of those who struggle with addiction have been “the opposite of healing,” which is partly why he advocates compassionate treatment for addicts rather than tough love. “[With massage therapy,] when they are being touched, it is not to give someone else pleasure, but to put themselves in touch with themselves,” he says. “If there’s some brain circuit that says to be touched is to be hurt,” Mate adds, “imagine being touched not to be hurt, but to be helped.”
Brendan C. experiences this rewiring, one day at a time. Twenty years sober, he says he’s still learning every day how to get in touch with his body and his feelings. Brendan says that many people with addictive personalities do not feel comfortable touching or being touched, himself included. “Part of the reason I drank,” he says, “was to avoid having intimate contact with those around me—my parents, children, wife.”
However, being willing to open up and to trust has made a world of difference. “Massage builds trust. Perhaps for the first time, the body can be completely relaxed, receptive, without the fear that the other person is going to hurt you,” he says.
This is what Schwehr sees all the time at the clinic, she says. “When someone has an opportunity to be touched, to have therapeutic work on their body, it can bring the [recovery] work home to a much deeper level,” she believes. “It can help connect the body to the emotions. I once read those emotions are our body’s way of telling us how it feels about what’s going on. When you bring someone back to their body, it’s like bringing them home.”
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Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.