Elevate Explores the Healing Power of Laughter

Laughter Is Good for the Soul

Most of us have experienced how a simple smile from a stranger or the sound of a baby giggling can quickly lift your mood, but how does laughter actually effect the human body? Gelotology, referred to by some as the science of laughter, is the study of laughing and its psychological and physiological effects on the body. Studies in this field show that smiling and laughing not only improves physical health, but also has noticeably positive effects on mental well-being.

Professors of psychology and physicians across the country have partaken in studies on laughter and found that laughing suppresses pain, helps boost the immune system, decreases hypertension, decreases the production of a hormone linked to heart failure, raises antibody levels, and releases dopamine! With over 350 scientific research papers on the effects of laughter, it’s clear the therapeutic community has a nearly untapped resource at its fingertips.

Laughter and Addiction Treatment


It has been thoroughly studied and documented that drug and alcohol abuse interfere with the brain’s natural release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of joy and happiness. As an individual consumes drugs or alcohol, their body is flooded with dopamine, hence the euphoric feeling addicts often describe when recalling their early instances of substance use.

However, when this process is interfered with habitually by continual drug or alcohol abuse, our bodies regulate themselves by decreasing the number of dopamine receptors in the brain, thereby affecting natural feelings of joy and happiness.

Countless studies have proven that when we smile and laugh, our brains release dopamine, making laughter a great way to help people in recovery begin the process of restoring balance to the depleted dopamine in their systems.

Comedy Night at Elevate!


In cooperation with a program called Laugh to Live, Elevate brought a fun-filled night of stand-up comedy into our treatment facilities. The founder of Laugh to Live states their mission is “to bring an uplifting, hilarious and cathartic experience to those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction” by bringing them stand-up comedy.

At Elevate, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our treatment program and better aid our clients through the recovery process. Through continued study of the many facets to incorporating laughter therapy into addiction treatment, affording our clients the opportunity to experience a real comedy show with Laugh to Live seemed to be the perfect start for us on this new journey.

Comedians Nick Petrillo, Jon Shefsky and Nathan Hurd, along with Laugh to Live founder Zane Heldberg, put on a hilarious show at both our Santa Cruz and South Lake Tahoe facilities. It was a truly enjoyable experience for our clients and our staff where we all got to come together and experience the true power of laughter.

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