Addiction is something that affects a sizeable proportion of the American population - although it is also eminently treatable. Like other chronic conditions such as diabetes, addiction is not something that can be “cured” and its symptoms need to be managed, usually for the lifetime of the patient.
Addiction doesn’t develop overnight although the initial time a person abuses substances will almost certainly be voluntary. Over time, the body becomes tolerant to the influence of drugs and alcohol, which limits the euphoric feelings users seek leading them to take higher doses or consume more in order to achieve the desired effect.
It is during this stage where a person begins to lose control of their cravings that dependence can often become full-blown addiction. In many cases, those close to a sufferer are not aware of their struggles as they withdraw and isolate themselves from people around them. This leads to people in the grips of addiction being vulnerable to their illness, which can take priority over everything else in their lives.
How Holistic Massage Therapy Can Help
Massage therapy is an alternative or complementary practice that is used in addiction treatment to restore calm in the mind of patients. It works by relieving body tension through massage, which often leads to a meditative state of mind. Depending on the level of addiction of each patient and their own personal preferences, there are different types of holistic massage therapy available to them including:
Massages therapists press, knead and manipulate the muscles, tissues and pressure points in a patient’s body using smooth circular movements and special massage oils or lotions. The experience is extremely calming and relaxing and restores balance to a patient’s mind, body and spirit to strengthen them for their lives in recovery.
Massage Therapy in Addiction Treatment
Holistic massage therapy has been shown to be highly effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms, speeding up detoxification and providing relaxation techniques to use in recovery. It works by stimulating the largest sensory organ of the body – the skin – sending pleasurable messages to the central nervous system which in turn activates dopamine production in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for creating euphoric sensations which are also produced by drugs and alcohol. By finding natural mechanisms to produce this effect in a patient with addiction illness, it provides them with an alternative, and much healthier way of achieving wellbeing without having to abuse substances, which is invaluable in rehab.
Massage Therapy’s Benefits for Addicts
Most holistic treatment centers will offer a wide variety of complementary treatments for addiction including massage therapy, which provides a variety of physical and mental health benefits. The bodywork that is performed by a massage therapist helps to improve blood circulation which makes the body more efficient at expelling toxins to aid detoxification.
Massages also reduce production of something called cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Many people with addiction first use drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate against stress and others may have become more susceptible to tension as a result of substance abuse. Through massage, a therapist can focus on specific trigger points to relax breathing, slow the heart rate, reduce muscle pain and enhance the body’s immune system.
Addicts leaving a holistic treatment center and continuing their journey after treatment can often be subject to higher levels of stress in the initial days. Fears about returning to their homes and having to avoid the people they associated with before treatment that enabled their addiction can be extremely daunting. Massage therapy allows patients to reconnect with their mind and body for a better sense of self-awareness, which can give them vital support as they face life outside the holistic treatment center. Regular massages enable recovering patients to achieve higher levels of dopamine and serotonin without having to abuse substances, which can significantly reduce the likelihood of relapse.