Aftercare


massage therapyIf you’re interested in a holistic approach to addressing your substance abuse issues, massage therapy may be an option to consider. Although it’s not a commonly used part of addiction treatment, massage therapy offers several benefits to people in recovery. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Promotes Detoxification

The squeezing and pulling motions we associate with a professional massage do more than just feel good. They help flush lactic acid from the muscles and boost blood flow to the limbs. This improvement in vascular function continues for several days after the massage has ended, which is why professional athletes often rely on massage to keep them in competitive shape.

Since massage helps improve circulation, it can aid in the detoxification process by allowing for a more efficient expulsion of toxic waste products away from the body. The invigoration of blood and lymphatic fluid also helps to promote a better utilization of oxygen-rich nutrition into the various organs and tissues.

2. Releases Endorphins

After the detoxification stage of addiction treatment, the body’s neurochemistry requires time to get back in balance. Drug and alcohol abuse prevents the release of natural endorphins, which means someone who is newly sober needs a little extra help convincing the body to manufacture these “feel good” chemicals.

Research has shown massage therapy increases the amount of beta-endorphins in the blood. Manufactured in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, beta-endorphins offer a chemical-free way for those in recovery to feel more like themselves. If you’re engaged in a regular exercise program as well as massage therapy, these benefits are further enhanced.

3. Reduces Chronic Pain

For someone who turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with chronic pain, massage can be a way to heal the body. Regular massage can lower pain levels and promote a more restful sleep—leading to improved mood and energy throughout the day.

If you suffer from opioid addiction related to chronic pain, regular massage therapy sessions can be particularly beneficial. Recovering prescription opioid abusers are often reluctant to use any type of pain medication for fear of relapse, but massage can be combined with alternative treatments such as yoga and acupuncture to naturally increase the body’s serotonin levels.

4. Reduces Stress

Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and create mood disturbances. Massage therapy helps those in recovery feel more relaxed and in control of their newfound sobriety by lowering cortisol levels.

Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. It increases glucose in the bloodstream and increases the availability of hormones to promote tissue repair, helping the body to be primed for a “fight or flight” situation. Although this is helpful when you’re actually under attack, an excess of cortisol can lead to stress-related problems such as weight gain, digestive problems, headaches, sleep disturbance, and difficulty concentrating.

5. Addresses Co-Occurring Disorders

If you suffer from co-occurring disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD, massage therapy can help by triggering the body’s relaxation response. It’s not a substitute for talk therapy, but massage can help you feel more open and comfortable expressing your emotions. This can enhance the effectiveness of your overall treatment plan, reducing the urge to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

6. Helps Overcome a Fear of Touch

If you’ve been physically or sexually abused in the past, touch may be associated with negative feelings. Massage therapy encourages the brain to associate physical contact with more positive sensations.

Psychologists who study trauma have stated that being a victim of abuse undermines five of our most basic human needs: safety, trust, control over one’s life, feeling of value, and experiencing closeness with others. The intimacy of massage therapy provides a safe and therapeutic way to meet these needs, thus offering a foundation for healing.  

7. Enhances Self-Awareness

An essential part of addiction recovery involves learning to manage personal addiction triggers. Understanding how feelings of boredom, anger, frustration, or anxiety trigger the urge to use helps you be proactive in managing your sobriety.

Regular massage helps build an awareness of your own body, including where tension exists and patterns that can lead to an increase in negative emotions. This can make it easier to develop productive strategies for controlling cravings and avoiding relapse.

How to Incorporate Massage Therapy into Your Recovery

Massage therapy can’t cure addiction on its own, but the guidance of a qualified massage therapist can offer numerous benefits as part of a broader evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment program. If you’re interested in incorporating massage therapy into your treatment, this issue can be discussed with your counselor as you’re developing your recovery plan.

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs, please visit our website or call us at 888-352-3297.

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How to build a recovery playlist

Music can be a wonderful source of support, inspiration, and motivation during the recovery process. Consider developing your own addiction recovery playlist to help you tackle the challenges of sober living, using these popular songs as a starting point.

Breaking the Habit – Linkin Park

I don’t know what’s worth fighting for
Or why I have to scream.
But now I have some clarity to show you what I mean.
I don’t know how I got this way.
I’ll never be alright,
So I’m breaking the habit.
I’m breaking the habit.
I’m breaking the habit tonight.

“Breaking the Habit” is a song about hitting rock bottom. The lyrics express frustration with the burdens of addiction, as well as an understanding that nothing gets better unless you make a conscious decision to change your own behavior.

Amazing – Aerosmith

It’s amazing.
With the blink of an eye, you finally see the light.
It’s amazing.
When the moment arrives that you know you’ll be alright.

Aerosmith’s popular power ballad begins by describing a life of pain caused by drug abuse, but shows how drastically life can change if you find the courage to ask for help. If you’re in the early stages of recovery, this is a song to remind you that things will get better.

My Silver Lining – First Aid Kit

Can’t worry ’bout what’s behind you or what’s coming for you further up the road.
I try not to hold on to what is gone.
I try to do right what is wrong.
I try to keep on keepin’ on.

When you’re in recovery, it’s easy to get distracted by guilt over past mistakes and anxiety about the future. “My Silver Lining” is a reminder to focus on the present and take your recovery one day at a time.

Recover – Natasha Bedingfield

Been torn apart,
Got so many scratches and scars.
Maybe they won’t all go away,
But they’ll fade.
Maybe time can mend us together again.
It’s not what we’ve done but, how far we’ve come.

“Recover” is a powerful song because it acknowledges that addiction causes lasting pain, but gives hope that recovery is possible. Think of this song as a reminder that your own scars are a badge of honor and a sign of survival. They tell the story of all you’ve been through and prove that you’re strong enough to conquer the world.

Survivor – Destiny’s Child

Now that you’re out of my life, I’m so much better.
You thought that I’d be weak without you, but I’m stronger.
You thought that I’d be broke without you, but I’m richer.
You thought that I’d be sad without you, I laugh harder.
Thought I wouldn’t grow without you, now I’m wiser.

This song is about getting over a bad breakup, but it’s not difficult to see the parallel between ending a toxic romance and overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. Think of it as a catchy tune to help you remember all the ways your life has improved since you made the decision to get clean.

Titanium – David Guetta featuring Sia

I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose.
Fire away, fire away.
Ricochet, you take your aim.
Fire away, fire away.
You shoot me down, but I won’t fall.
I am titanium.

“Titanium” is a song about inner strength and finding it in yourself to overcome whatever obstacles the world throws at you. It’s a song that resonates with many people who’ve turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with trauma in their lives.

Firework – Katy Perry

You don’t have to feel like a wasted space.
You’re original, cannot be replaced.
If you only knew what the future holds.
After a hurricane, comes a rainbow.

More than just a popular dance number, “Firework” offers a powerful message about embracing your individuality. It’s a worthy addition to any recovery playlist, especially if you’re struggling to redefine your sense of self without drugs and alcohol.

Hold Fast – Mercy Me

Hold fast
Help is on the way.
Hold fast
He’s come to save the day.
What I’ve learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is your grasp.

Contemporary Christian band MercyMe sings about the power of Christ’s love, urging anyone who is going through a difficult time to turn to their faith as a source of strength. Even though this song isn’t specifically about addiction, it’s a message that resonates with many who are in recovery.

The Man I Want to Be – Chris Young

I wanna be a good man,
A ‘do like I should’ man.
I wanna be the kind of man the mirror likes to see.
I wanna be a strong man
And admit that I was wrong, man.
God, I’m asking you to come change me
To the man I wanna be.

Country music singer Chris Young expresses the desire to make big changes in life, while acknowledging that this is a job too big to undertake alone. This song reminds us that all things are possible with God’s help.

By Dana Hinders

7 tips for healthy eating in recoverySubstance abuse has long been linked to nutritional deficiencies. The empty calories in wine, beer, and liquor reduce the desire to consume a healthy diet, while the urge to seek a high from illegal drugs often causes substance abusers to skip meals in search of their next fix.

If you’re in recovery, following a balanced diet can help repair the past damage caused by substance abuse. Proper nutrition will also help alleviate symptoms of withdrawal (such as headaches and stomach upset), reduce cravings, and boost your energy levels.

Here are seven tips for healthy eating in recovery:

1. Drink Lots of Water
In detox and the early stages of recovery, dehydration is a common concern. It’s recommended that you drink 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound of body weight. For example, a 150-pound woman should try to drink 75 to 150 ounces of water per day.

If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try making infused water by adding fresh fruit and herbs to a pitcher of water and chilling it for several hours. Watermelon and mint, citrus and cucumber, or strawberry and basil are a few popular combinations you can try.

2. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Current federal dietary guidelines recommend that you fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables for each meal. This is great advice for everyone, but it’s particularly helpful for people in recovery.

Citrus fruits are rich in antioxidants, which help boost your immune system, restore the appearance of your skin and hair, and protect the body from free radical damage. Grapefruit is especially beneficial during detox and early recovery because it helps regulate your digestive system while lowering cholesterol and preventing kidney stones.

Any vegetable you enjoy is a good choice, although leafy greens like kale, spinach, romaine, bok choy, swiss chard, collards, and dandelion provide a source of chlorophyll to help rid the body of harmful toxins and promote detoxification in the liver. If you’re not a salad lover, try adding leafy greens to a smoothie. Combine 1 cup greens, 1 cup liquid, and 1 ½ cups fruit. The fruit will give your finished drink a sweet taste that masks the flavor of the greens.

3. Choose Whole Grains
Whole grains are those that contain the bran, germ, and endosperm instead of losing nutrients while being refined. Whole grains are packed with insoluble fiber, which keeps you from being constipated and helps control your appetite. They’re also high in antioxidants and packed with essential nutrients.

Whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and air-popped popcorn are the most common types of whole grains. However, more adventurous eaters may want to branch out and try options like quinoa, bulgur, millet, and buckwheat.

4. Add Wild Salmon as a Source of Lean Protein
Protein helps recovering substance abusers repair damaged cells. Wild salmon is an excellent protein source because it is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon can be baked, broiled, or grilled and paired with a side of mixed veggies or brown rice for a filling and delicious meal option.

5. Snack on Seeds and Nuts
Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are wonderful choices for snacks since they have enough protein to regulate your blood sugar and keep your mood stable throughout the day. Try making your own homemade trail mix by combining your favorites with dried fruit and a bit of whole grain granola. One serving of trail mix is approximately ¼ cup. You can keep premeasured portions in plastic sandwich bags to avoid overeating.

6. Limit Consumption of Fast Foods, Sugary Sweets, and Caffeine
During recovery, one common mistake that people make is replacing their abused substance with fast food or sugary sweets. These foods create temporary feelings of satisfaction, but can result in weight gain along with making you feel bloated and sluggish. It’s best to reserve these items for special occasions only.

You may also want to avoid beverages containing caffeine during your recovery. Caffeine provides a temporary energy boost, but can result in mood fluctuations that make it harder to resist cravings for alcohol or drugs.

7. Keep a Food Journal
Nutritionists often recommend keeping a food journal to learn more about how different foods affect your mood and energy levels. This exercise can be useful in identifying areas where you need to improve your nutrition, as well as strategies that work well in reducing your cravings.

By: Dana Hinders

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