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How Massage Therapy Intertwines with Addiction Recovery: Your Complete Guide

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How Massage Therapy Intertwines with Addiction Recovery: Your Complete Guide

Addiction takes such a heavy toll on the mind, body and spirit. Substances wreak havoc on our immune system – we lose sleep, we miss out on essential vitamins and nutrients that support healthy functioning, and more – and this all can lead to painful symptoms that appear throughout the body as well.

How Addiction Affects the Body

Withdrawal is a clear indicator of this, because our physical dependency on substances has made it feel deathly impossible to stop using. Detoxification is uncomfortable because the mind and body are being forced to flush out the harsh toxins that have built up in our system, and this tends to lead to a number of discomforting physical symptoms, such as:

  •    Headaches
  •    Fatigue
  •    Restlessness
  •    Body aches
  •    And more

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) denotes the serious implications of addiction for a person’s physical health; drug use can increase a person’s chances for infectious diseases, and misjudgment can easily lead to unreported falls and accidents. The body goes through so much, on the inside and out, when addiction is involved – so it’s only natural that during recovery, the body requires a holistic practice such as massage therapy to promote immune system functioning and to improve a person’s total wellbeing.

Using Massage for Healing

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) once described the story of a man who’d been in recovery for over 20 years; with that many years of sobriety under his belt, he found that his body still held tension from various stressors in his daily life. He went to his massage therapist and, although he didn’t originally know why he was so tense, he discovered that it was because he was still grieving over the dissolution of a long-term relationship. The amount of stress placed on his physical health was no longer because of substance abuse, yet it was still causing him a great amount of pain on a daily basis.

If instances such as these can have such a profound impact on the body, we can only imagine how substance abuse can affect us. A few years ago, Massage Magazine highlighted the many ways that massage providing healing for clients in addiction recovery, such as through:

  •    Human connection – many people who’ve struggled with substances haven’t received the type of care that goes into massage therapy, which can help give them a sense of support
  •    Relaxation – with so much mental, physical and spiritual pain that can come with addiction recovery, massage therapy provides a relaxing environment for a person to breathe and focus on the present moment
  •    Healthy alternatives – in some cases, patients abuse substances because they’re struggling with chronic pain; massage therapy addresses this issue in a holistic manner, which serves as a healthy alternative to substance abuse
  •    Teamwork – clients must work with their massage therapist to explain what they’re going through and what they need; these interactions already promote a sense of teamwork that lets individuals know they’re cared for and that they can communicate their needs
  •    Compassion – due to both stigma and unhealthy coping mechanisms, those in addiction recovery tend to feel as though they’re not cared for. Massage therapy combats this belief by showing clients that their health and wellness matters to others – and through a relaxing practice such as massage, they can breathe

In some instances, massage therapy can even be a place for clients to talk about some of their stressors – and that alone, paired with compassionate massage, can be life changing. One practictioner told the magazine, “This is a hard thing they’re dealing with, probably the toughest they’ll ever deal with their entire lives. You have to be compassionate.”

Opening Doors Through Massage Therapy

There are several types of massage therapy that can be used, depending on a person’s specific needs. Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, aromatherapy and more can all yield different results, while addressing concerns of the client; this personalized approach makes for enhanced outcomes in the recovery process, which further promotes healing.

The Institute for Integrative Healthcare explains that massage therapy is often the “missing link” in addiction recovery treatment, because even on a basic physical level, circulation is desired in the detoxification process. On an emotional level, clients are more easily able to begin connecting their mind, body and spirit again – and as they develop a greater awareness of their body, and are actively practicing care for themselves, they become stronger in working through emotional release. Joni Kosakoski, BSN, RN, CARN, told the institute, “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.”

Ultimately, massage therapy opens doors for healing – and if you’re ready to begin your journey towards holistic wellness, speak with a professional from Avalon Malibu today.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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