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Massage Therapy and Addiction Recovery: Treatment for Body, Mind, and Soul

massage-addiction-recoveryIndividuals seeking treatment for substance abuse deserve to be treated as just that: individuals. As part of a holistic rehabilitation plan, a team will look to support the patient’s psychological, social, and physical needs. This integration of body, mind, and soul helps residents achieve long-term improvements.

A holistic program should include various alternative approaches, engaging the resident on every level to give them their best chance at recovery. That’s why Massage Therapy, an ancient technique tailored for modern needs, is such an asset in a holistic treatment plan. Massage Therapy, through a combination of compassionate touch and structured strokes, can provide amazing benefits for residents’ mental, social, and physical health.

Psychological Impacts: Massage Eases Anxiety & Depression

In one fascinating study, 82 adult patients in recovery for psychoactive drugs (including alcohol, cocaine, and opiates) received massage therapy as part of a treatment plan. The goal of the study was to ascertain if Massage Therapy could help alleviate symptoms of anxiety throughout the withdrawal process. Study participants either received chair massage or simple “relaxation control.”

Chair massage, tailored to each individual’s needs for specific pressure, offers relaxing techniques focused on the upper back, hands, and feet. The individual may remain clothed to their comfort level. At the end of the study, those who received chair massage reported significantly less anxiety.

Other studies have shown that Massage Therapy can cause a significant decrease in reported symptoms of anxiety and depression even among populations suffering from intense medical conditions. As part of a holistic protocol, Massage Therapy engages with the patient’s mental health, easing psychological distress with simple strokes and compassionate touch.

Spiritual and Social Well-Being: Body & Soul

In many situations, those recovering from addiction feel alienated from friends and family. Massage Therapy is one way to re-introduce the individual to caring social touch. So much research has been done in the field of sensory touch and deprivation. Again and again, studies have demonstrated that physical touch is a necessary component of a fulfilling and comforting social experience.

As part of a holistic treatment, Massage Therapy offers therapeutic physical touch in a controlled environment. Clients who receive caring touch from a professional not only can benefit from its stress-reducing aspects, but can benefit socially and spiritually from the caring gesture of physical contact.

In addition to its social aspect, Massage has been shown to offer spiritual benefits. In one amazing study, patients were given caring touch Massage Therapy as part of a protocol after traumatic incidents. Also known as therapeutic touch, this is a gentle type of Massage protocol that engages with the client’s comfort level.

In the study, this caring touch Massage allowed patients to understand how their body and soul were “scattered” by traumatic incidents. After receiving caring touch treatment, one patient said, “It gives a feeling of coming together…the soul gets back into the body again.”

This spiritual cohesion, brought on by compassionate touch, is of vital importance to those in recovery from substance addiction.

Physical Aspects of Massage: Getting Back in Touch with The Body

Pain is a common side effect for patients in recovery from addiction. One study showed that healing Massage Therapy “should be strongly recommended” as a way to improve symptoms of physical pain.

Many of these benefits are linked to a specific style called Swedish Massage, which uses long, flowing strokes (aided with oil or cream) to manipulate the soft tissue. This type of massage also offer a host of other physical benefits. It can increase range of motion, improve skin conditions by enhancing circulation, assuage neck and back pain, and decrease blood pressure.

In addition to decreasing pain and improving physical conditions, Massage offers a way for the patient to interact positively with his or her own body. Too often, in cases of addiction, the patient can begin to mistrust his or her own body and become disconnected from themselves on a physical level. Along with immersion in physical activities, it’s vital to foster a sense of comfort with one’s body and to recognize that the body can provide a source of pleasure that’s linked with positive and healthful activities.

There is no standard approach for addiction recovery that works perfectly for every person. That is why it’s vital to use a variety of carefully-chosen interventions to choose the best path of recovery for an individual. As part of a Non-12-Step Treatment Program, Massage Therapy delivered by a compassionate professional can help support the unique and changing emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs of the individual.

If you want to learn more about Prominence Treatment Center’s multi-faceted approach to holistic treatment, please contact us today.


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