The Role of Massage Therapy In Addiction Treatment

Tim Sonnet

Medically reviewed by

Tim Sinnott, MFT

July 8, 2019

Article Contents

Massage And Addiction Treatment

Article Contents

Typically practiced in holistic treatment programs such as heroin drug treatment or at cocaine addiction centers, massage therapy has a number of 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 particularly beneficial for those facing substance abuse problems.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Dating back thousands of years around the globe, 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, as well as helping to reduce stress, anxiety and promote general health.
During massage therapy, therapists manipulate the muscles in the body through pushing and rubbing the body’s soft tissues. Massage therapists use different types of their body to manipulate their clients’ muscles, typically including hands and fingers, forearms, elbows, and even feet in some types of massage.

Types of Massage Therapy

There are a number of different types of massage therapy. Each type focuses on a different part of the body or is performed with different 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 types of massage 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 as opposed to, 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 in an effort 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, deep tissue massage is a very intense form of massage. Firm pressure and slow strokes help massage deep into the muscles to relieve tension from the innermost tissues of the body.
  • Shiatsu Massage: A type of Japanese massage meant to help clients relax and relieve stress, Shiatsu massage is full-body massage, during which the therapist will use their hands, fingers, palms, and thumbs to manipulate parts of the body that hold tension

Benefits of Massage Therapy

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

  • Increases blood flow: The physical manipulation of the body helps to increase blood flow within the body. This increase in blood flow can help improve the body’s immune system, which is typically very weakened in the case of 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 is only increased during the detoxification process. Massage therapy can help relieve that tension held in the body.
  • Improves sleep: Those facing substance abuse issues often have trouble with insomnia, especially early in the recovery process at a facility like a cocaine rehab center. Stimulation of pressure receptors in the body helps to reduce stress, allowing massage therapy clients to sleep better and have deeper sleep.
  • Helps remove toxins: Massage therapy also assists the body in processing through toxins left over from substance abuse faster.

Mental/Emotional Benefits

  • Reduces stress: Those facing addiction problems oftentimes repress the stress they are experiencing, especially while at a facility like a cocaine addiction center or heroin drug treatment center. Massage therapy can help to relieve that stress. In fact, at times clients find themselves becoming a little emotional during massage therapy. This is normal, as stress reduction can have a huge impact on the emotional state of a person.
  • Releases feel-good chemicals: During massage therapy, both serotonin and dopamine are released. These feel-good chemicals are important for the body, especially during the early stages of withdrawal, when the body’s dopamine levels drop. Massage therapy also reduces the level of cortisol in the body, a stress hormone which 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 allows 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.

In Conclusion

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. 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.
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Tim Sonnet

Medically reviewed by

Tim Sinnott, MFT

July 8, 2019

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