The Role of Massage Therapy In Addiction Treatment

Massage And Addiction Treatment

Typically practiced in holistic treatment programs such as heroin drug treatment or at cocaine addiction centers, massage therapy has several benefits to clients. 

This therapy has both physical and mental impacts on those participating in the practice over time. While massage therapy is beneficial for everyone, it can be incredibly helpful for those facing substance abuse problems during the recovery process.

Benefits of Massage Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Massage therapy helps those facing substance abuse issues and attend holistic treatment in several different ways, both physical and mental. The main benefits are listed below, but additional benefits can come from massage therapy and vary from person-to-person.

Increases blood flow: The physical manipulation of the body helps to increase blood flow within the body. Increased blood flow can improve the body’s immune system, typically significantly weakened in those dealing with substance abuse problems.

Eliminates muscle tension: Those going through the recovery process after having a substance abuse problem often hold a considerable amount of stress in their body. That stress levels can increase during the detoxification process. Massage therapy can help relieve any excess tension held in the body.

Improves sleep: Those facing substance abuse issues often have trouble with insomnia, especially early in the facility’s recovery process like a cocaine rehab center. Stimulation of pressure receptors in the body reduces stress, allowing massage therapy clients to sleep better and experience deeper sleep.

Helps remove toxins: Massage therapy also helps the body to process the toxins left over from substance abuse more quickly than someone who has not received massage therapy.

Mental & Emotional Benefits of Massage Therapy 

Massage therapy can help anyone, but because individuals who have been through a substance abuse problem are mentally and physically worn down, they will reap the benefits of this holistic treatment more readily. 

Mental and emotional benefits of massage therapy may include:

Reduces stress: Those facing addiction problems often repress their stress, especially at a drug treatment center. Massage therapy can help to relieve that stress. At times, clients find themselves becoming a little emotional during massage therapy. This is normal, as stress reduction can have a considerable impact on a person’s emotional state.

Releases feel-good chemicals: During massage therapy, both serotonin and dopamine are released. These feel-good chemicals are essential for the body, especially during the early stages of withdrawal when the body’s dopamine levels drop. Massage therapy also reduces the cortisol levels in the body, a stress hormone that can cause feelings of anxiousness.

Increases self-awareness: One of the lasting emotional benefits of massage therapy is an increase in self-awareness. Getting to know oneself and one’s limits better allow for better self-control. After leaving a rehabilitation facility like a cocaine rehab center, this helps prevent clients from relapsing, and they have better self-awareness.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy was initially introduced to the Americas in the 1850s. After becoming popular again in the 1970s, massage therapy has stuck around, currently being used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including:

  • pain and sports injuries 
  • helping to reduce stress & anxiety 
  • promote general health.


During massage therapy, therapists manipulate the body’s muscles by pushing and rubbing the body’s soft tissues. 

Massage therapists use different parts of their bodies to work their clients’ muscles, including:

  • hands and fingers
  • forearms 
  • elbows 
  • feet (in some massage types)

Different Types of Massage Therapy

There are many different types of massage therapy. Each type focuses on another part of the body or is performed with varying benefits in mind.

Here are a few popular types of this holistic treatment:

Swedish Massage: Recommended for those inexperienced in massage therapy, Swedish Massage is a gentle, full-body massage designed to help release knots in the body’s muscles. Because of its gentle nature, Swedish massage typically lasts longer than other massage types and includes deep, circular motions with a gentle kneading of the muscles.

Hot stone massage: Similar in technique to Swedish Massage, Hot Stone Massage utilizes heated stones instead of, or in addition to, the massage therapist’s hands. The added heat of the stones helps to increase blood flow and further release muscle tension.

Trigger Point Massage: Best suited for those with an injury or chronic pain in a particular area, Trigger Point Massage focuses on a specific problem area of the body to reduce pain. This massage uses strong, even pressure on the muscles.

Deep tissue massage: Designed for people who hold a considerable amount of tension in their muscles or suffer from chronic pain, a deep tissue massage is an intense form of massage. Firm pressure and slow strokes help massage deep into the muscles to relieve tension from the body’s innermost tissues.

Shiatsu Massage: A type of Japanese massage meant to help clients relax and relieve stress, Shiatsu massage is a full-body massage, during which the therapist will use their hands, fingers, palms, and thumbs to manipulate parts of the body that hold tension

Why You Should Consider an Addiction Treatment Center that Offers Massage Therapy

Massage therapy helps those facing substance abuse problems in a multitude of ways. Both the emotional and physical benefits of massage therapy are increased for those battling addiction. 

Don’t let massage therapy offerings fool you. Drug and alcohol treatment centers that offer this service know there are specific benefits massage can provide their clients in addition to other treatment modalities. 

Stress relief, improving sleep, and helping to increase self-awareness are all factors that make massage therapy important for those attending rehabilitation facilities such as heroin drug treatment facilities or cocaine addiction centers.

This page does not provide medical advice

Written by Elevate Addiction Services | ©2020 Elevate Addiction Services | All Rights Reserved

Medically Reviewed by

Alok Krishna, MD

December 1, 2020

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