THE BENEFITS OF MASSAGE IN TREATING ADDICTION
For spa-goers or vacationers, a massage is an indulgent treat. But for those trying to overcome addiction, it can serve as a useful recovery tool. In fact, studies have shown that massage therapy can play a very positive role in the journey to sobriety.
How so? One way is through the stabilization of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that allows us to feel pleasure. When an addict uses a drug like cocaine or amphetamines, the brain is stimulated to produce more dopamine than it normally would. Taking that into account, when an addict stops using drugs or goes into withdrawal, dopamine levels plunge — which can lead to anxiety, depression and, worst-case scenario, relapse.
Studies performed by the Touch Research Institute, however, indicate that a regular massage regimen produces long-term results of increased dopamine levels. With the substance no longer providing the “feel-good” chemicals artificially, the body is able to do so on its own again. And the recovering addict is not only rewarded with the pleasure of dopamine, they can also take pride in the fact that their body is producing it naturally again.
When it comes to recovery, it’s also important not to underestimate the power of physical contact. In many cases, addicts close themselves off from family, friends and other loved ones. By the time they get into treatment, they’re starved for the connection of human touch. The nurturing contact of massage not only relaxes a patient, it helps them rebuild trust when it comes to letting people in who can help them.
Beyond that, more research by the Touch Institute indicates that massage, when used as part of a detoxification or rehabilitation process, can reduce the stress hormone cortisol while also decreasing anxiety, depression, agitation and craving. On the flip side, it’s been proven to increase alertness and the body’s immune response.
As naturopathic physician Maureen Schwehr puts it: “When someone has the opportunity to be touched, to have therapeutic work on their body, it can bring the [recovery] work home to a much deeper level. It can help connect the body with the emotions. When you bring someone back to their body, it’s like bringing them home.”
At the Reawakenings Wellness Center, we offer and encourage all types of holistic therapy, including massage. Other amenities we provide to ensure patients are nurtured during their stay include the option of private rooms, maid service, chef-prepared meals, a swimming pool and fitness center. Therapies include art therapy, yoga, tai chi and meditation and spiritual advisement.
At RWC, we believe recovery is about more than just quitting drugs or alcohol — it’s about rediscovering the person you were meant to be. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, call Reawakenings today.