Massage Therapy

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massage-therapyWhen looking for effective pain management, many patients who are also struggling with alcohol dependence  and drug abuse turn to supplemental holistic treatment methods. Message therapy is one holistic treatment option with some compelling benefits for helping patients in drug recovery programs manage their pain levels. The term “massage therapy” can be used to describe a variety of different techniques which utilize touch in order to heal and relieve tension in the body.

Dealing with Chronic Pain

Massage therapy for addiction recovery can be a highly effective pain management strategy for people who are struggling with substance abuse. Substance abuse and pain, especially chronic pain, often go hand-in-hand.

Chronic pain in drug and alcohol recovery patients is of particular concern because it increases the risk for relapse. When pain is not effectively dealt with, as is often the case with patients receiving treatment for drug abuse, they may be tempted to resume using drugs or alcohol in order to find some relief.

The co-morbidity of substance use disorder and pain is associated with poorer treatment outcomes. It also often contributes to a more extensive history of treatment, more severe carvings, more medical problems, more mental health concerns, an earlier average age of addiction onset, and higher average drug or alcohol use.

Massage therapy has been shown to significantly reduce chronic pain, particularly chronic lower back pain. Massage therapy can be used on its own, or as an adjunctive treatment to prescription painkillers.

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How does Massage Therapy Help in Addiction Recovery?Massage for addiction therapy

It is important that patients in drug addiction treatment are aware of their options when it comes to therapy for pain relief, both in terms of pharmaceuticals and alternative pain relieving strategies. The best combination of treatments for one patient may not work as effectively for another. Some may feel that it is most beneficial for them to treat their pain through massage, while others will need the additional help of carefully prescribed and monitored medication.

Aside from the fact that it can directly alleviate pain by massaging the body’s sore areas, message therapy for addiction treatment can also be an important tool for cuing patients in areas of their body where they carry stress and tension. In becoming better able to recognize the signs of bodily stress, patients can better recognize and break habitual responses to stress.

A reduced and more easily controlled stress response can help patients avoid relapse and remain in drug addiction therapy for the duration of their treatment. Becoming more aware of one’s body and mind is useful for recognizing situations which may lead to cravings.

What are the Benefits of Massage Therapy?

Because of its ability to lower stress levels, massage therapy has been considered as a promising alternative therapy for use during the alcohol detoxification process. Researchers have found that, when compared to patients who do not receive massage therapy, this treatment can reduce the severity of a patient’s alcohol detoxification symptoms as well as their average pulse rate.

Any drug addict or alcoholic who also suffers from chronic pain may be able to benefit from massage therapy for addiction recovery. People who are or have been homeless are a particularly important target population, as they often have a more difficult time receiving adequate medical care for chronic pain while seeking treatment for addiction.

Massage therapy for addiction treatment is a targeted pain relieving strategy which aims to help patients achieve abstinence by removing pain as a possible relapse trigger. When successful, massage therapy can be an important part of holistic treatment program which addresses all of the unique needs of the patient.


  1. Wiest, K. L., Asphaug, V. J., Carr, K. E., Gowen, E. A., & Hartnett, T. T. (2015, March). Massage Impact on Pain in Opioid-dependent Patients in Substance Use Treatment. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  2. Barry, D. T., Beitel, M., Cutter, C. J., Garnet, B., Joshi, D., Schottenfeld, R. S., & Rounsaville, B. J. (2009). Allopathic, complementary, and alternative medical treatment utilization for pain among methadone-maintained patients: An exploratory study. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  3. Price, C. J., Wells, E. A., Donovan, D. M., & Brooks, M. (2012, May). Implementation and Acceptability of Mindful Awareness in Body-Oriented Therapy in Women’s Substance Use Disorder Treatment. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  4. Fleming, S., Rabago, D. P., Mundt, M. P., & Fleming, M. F. (2007, May 16). CAM therapies among primary care patients using opioid therapy for chronic pain. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

Last updated on April 6th, 2017 at 04:26 pm

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