Massage and the Recovering Addict

The American Medical Association now defines addiction as a primary chronic disease. The classification of addiction as such has helped to change the recovery process for the better. However, there is still work to be done.

Throughout the process of addiction, detox, and recovery, every facet of the addictʼs being is affected. The substances themselves wreak havoc on the physical body, while the obsession with obtaining the substance takes control of their every thought and decision. When substances cannot be obtained, withdrawal often sets in, causing even more physical pain. Many addicts often suffer from extreme feelings of guilt after being forced by their obsession to do things they would never do if they were healthy. Inpatient rehab centers usually provide group and individual talk therapy, access to 12 step meetings, trauma counseling, and increasingly more holistic approaches such as yoga and meditation. Some rehab centers do offer massage. But for those lacking insurance coverage, a 30 day stay can cost tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.  Most treatment professionals recommend a 90 day stay for the best chance at lasting sobriety. So, unless you're Charlie Sheen, you probably can't afford to attend. As a result, many  of Americaʼs addicted unfortunately end up with state funded programs as their only option for recovery. These facilities tend to have long waiting lists as they are often filled to capacity.
As a massage therapist, I want massage to be more widely accepted as a method of healing, rather than simply as a luxury. Our art is meant to treat the body as a whole being, not just the sum of its parts. We take into account our clientsʼ mental, physical and spiritual state in order to form an effective treatment plan. The overall process of addiction alienates the body from the mind and the mind from the spirit. 

Anyone who has ever watched a loved one go down this path, or has gone down it themselves, can attest to this. If we can bring awareness to the power of massage as a means of overall healing, we can eventually make it available to all of those in need of treatment, and not just those who can afford it as a luxury. 
Carolina Willsen, L.M.T.