A treatment focused on stimulating healing, massage therapy provides individuals struggling with addiction a way to relieve stress. Massage therapy can be useful throughout the recovery process, beginning with detox—to relieve pain, reduce cravings, boost dopamine levels and enhance immune function. Even after inpatient addiction treatment ends, regular massage can aid in stress management and relapse prevention.
Supporting Healthy Hormone Balance
Individuals in detox and the early stages of drug addiction treatment typically experience a significant reduction in dopamine, which is an important hormone that controls mood. Massage therapy works to increase the body’s natural production of dopamine and serotonin. This can help minimize the physical and mental discomfort that occurs during early addiction treatment.
A study published by the National Institutes of Health has confirmed massage therapy can be beneficial in numerous treatments for medical conditions and stress reduction.
Massage therapy also reduces the body’s reaction to stressors which can trigger the release of cortisol (the hormone that moves through the body to stimulate the body organs’ response to stress). By reducing the production of cortisol, massage therapy helps minimize the anxiety and restlessness that recovering individuals may feel during early treatment.
Improving Sleep Quality, Reducing Pain, Discomfort and Stimulating Relaxation
Withdrawal symptoms during the detox process often cause insomnia in many recovering individuals. Faced with overwhelming emotions and physical changes during the early stages of the recovery process, recovering individuals can use massage therapy to help ease the mind and promote better sleep. Yes, massage therapy helps individuals to sleep better.
When the body is no longer exposed to the abuse of drugs and alcohol, aches and pains that were numbed by these drugs come to surface. In addition, the physical changes in brain chemistry cause the brain to demand access to those substances causing the central nervous system to respond with pain and stress signals.
Massage therapy can ease these recovery-related disorders by stimulating blood flow to tissues and muscles. That blood flow helps minimize the presence of cortisol – the stress hormone – and works to encourage healing on a cellular level. Feeling less physical pain, the recovering individual can better concentrate on his or her therapy during the initial recovery process.
Massage therapy can also stimulate pressure receptors in the brain. As a result, it can help improve the function of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a primary nerve present in the brain which when stimulated, can help reduce blood pressure and slow the heart rate, in turn, reduces stress hormones in the body and creates a sense of relaxation.
It is a fact by now, that for those who previously turned to drugs or alcohol for relief from stress and pain, a simple massage allows their body’s natural system to relax.
As a form of holistic care, it can also be one of the best ways for individuals to see significant improvement in their quality of life during recovery.
In conclusion, you can count on massage therapy’s benefits at any stage of addiction recovery and beyond.
Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.