September is Addiction Recovery Month!
September is Addiction Recovery Month, designated to increase awareness and understanding of substance use disorders and celebrate people in recovery. The 2019 theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger.
In the early stages of recovery from addiction, patients often experience an uncomfortable gap between their mind and body. The mind knows it shouldn’t use the substance, while the body craves it. Therapeutic massage can bridge that gap, and is a powerful adjunct treatment in the addiction recovery process.
Comprehensive treatment is the key to successful recovery. In Counselor: The Magazine for Addiction Professionals, Joni Kosakoski, BSN, RN, CARN, advocates the integration of massage therapy into drug and alcohol treatment. In her article “Massage: Hands Down, a Treatment for Addiction,” Kosakoski gives a concise analysis of massage’s benefits for this population and its place in addiction treatment.
Integrating massage into a treatment program is advantageous in all stages of overcoming addiction: withdrawal, detoxification and abstinence. Researcher Norman S. Miller notes that medical management of alcohol and drug withdrawal during detoxification often is not sufficient to produce sustained abstinence from recurrent use.
The Touch Research Institute-Univ. of Miami, has documented the physiological effects of massage. Some of their findings are related to massage’s ability to reduce cortisol levels. Several studies document the ability of massage to decrease anxiety, depression, agitation and cravings.
Dopamine is well-documented as being significantly involved in addiction. Dopamine levels are lower than average during drug withdrawal and early recovery, until brain chemistry normalizes. In 1998, the Touch Research Institute published findings that a regular massage regimen increases dopamine levels. The fact that massage therapy stimulates dopamine production and decreases cortisol levels makes it highly effective in a standard detox program.
Massage treatment reduces the tendency to relapse. The 1989 edition of General Pharmacology reported that massage therapy increased beta-endorphins in the blood by 16 percent. Drugs and alcohol decrease production of endorphins. While the neurochemistry regains normal balance, this is the recovering addict’s most likely time to relapse. Massage is crucial after initial detox, as it effectively helps the patient get through this most vulnerable phase of recovery.
This can be a powerful – even life-changing – experience for clients, as it helps them feel good while remaining drug-free, enhancing their recovery on 4 levels:
– Physical level. The enhanced circulation from massage also helps during detox. Invigoration of blood and lymphatic flow promotes an efficient exchange of oxygen and nutrients into the body’s tissues, and the removal of toxins and metabolic waste products. Kosakoski says: “All systems of the body function more efficiently with improved circulation and a reduction in tension of the soft tissues and musculature…”
– Mental level. As toxins leave the cells, thinking becomes clearer and decision-making is improved, helping those in recovery more easily recognize the downside of addiction, making the transition easier from abuse to sobriety.
– Emotional level. Learning to identify and manage the feelings and situations that trigger drug or alcohol use is a critical part of the recovery process. Regular massage sessions can aid the client’s awareness of the stressors that trigger drug use. Being conscious of these patterns is a step toward recognizing and healthfully addressing emotions associated with cravings. Emotional release can commonly occur with massage, providing a safe, non-threatening way to manage stress and emotions without the aid of drugs or alcohol.
– Spiritual level. The deep relaxation from massage can provide a still inner place for patients to become aware of their spiritual needs. Recovering addicts have reported a new appreciation of life when they can simultaneously be present, feel good and be substance-free. Kosakoski explains, “To allow oneself to surrender to the practitioner’s hands – to breathe fully and easily, to acknowledge and receive the gifts of nurturing, surrender and relaxation… is an invaluable addition to the newly recovering person’s repertoire of relapse-prevention skills.”
Massage has the unique ability to affect all levels of our being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. As a valuable component when integrated into addiction treatment massage helps recovering addicts succeed in their recovery.
Pacific Massage Services staff is trained and experienced in the treatment of addiction recovery. Give us a call for info or appointments: 808.885.4459
Get more info: https://RecoveryMonth.gov