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Massage Therapy Benefits Drug, Alcohol Addicts

The national price tag for substance abuse is about $500 billion. Between lost productivity, criminal prosecution and health/social programs, the cost of drug abuse is high.  Finding effective therapy methods to work with rehab programs is important to successfully lowering the devastating numbers of drug abusers.  Interestingly, one of the best drug recovery therapies may also be one of the most low tech and cost-effective – massage therapy. Most therapies during drug rehab are highly interactive and demand something from the patient.  Whether it is through exercise, counseling, 12-step or some other approach, the patient is asked to think, communicate or practice a new skill throughout much of rehab. Massage is different, as it is one therapy that is almost wholly passive, yet it yields significant benefits. A 1998 study conducted in Norway helped to show how massage therapy benefits patients. Stress is a serious impediment to addiction recovery. Patients who feel stressed and anxious are strongly tempted to return to substances to soothe those feelings. In addition, stress hormones directly affect the reward chemical dopamine. This means that the person who has little practice in successfully managing negative emotions may feel doubly deprived and needy.  Massage therapy is highly successful in reducing stress. The Norwegian study demonstrated that massage therapy not only reduces stress, but it produces a 16 percent rise in beta-endorphins. Like dopamine, endorphins give pleasurable sensations.  With less than an hour of tactile manipulation, patients can feel less agitated and more positive and all apart from use of any substances. This positive attitude then contributes to the success of other drug rehab therapies. Massage therapy not only reduces stress and increases positive feelings, but it also helps patients become more self-aware. Massage helps patients slow down, block out distractions and focus on being calm. With regular massage sessions, a patient becomes more attuned to signals from their body especially where tension and stress are taking hold. The patient who has been practicing relaxation will recognize symptoms of anxiety and stress more quickly and has experienced dealing with those emotions in a positive way. Many drug rehab programs begin by helping patients to detoxify their body. Massage therapy is helpful here as well. Through massage, muscles are loosened and endorphins are released, but the increased blood flow massage produces also aids detox by nourishing tissues and increasing lymph drainage. In a real sense, massage therapy releases good chemicals and helps to wash away bad ones. Massage therapy has been proven to help patients relax, get rid of stress, heighten awareness and brighten their outlook. It aids in detox and boosts the potential for other therapies. Massage can reduce cravings and even helps to lift depression and pain.

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