Benefits of Massage Therapy for Addiction Recovery

There are numerous benefits to massage therapy. This is especially true for recovering addicts because human touch increases the release of endorphins and important hormones that are reduced during withdrawals. There are other benefits besides improving mood and reducing stress though. For example, receiving massages can help improve trust and give you an outlet for self-care. Here are eight benefits of massage therapy for those going through addiction recovery. 

It Can Help Improve Detox Symptoms 

Massages improve blood circulation and promote the removal of built-up lactic acid from muscles. This can help move toxins out of the body and move an alcohol or drug detox along. “Drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and many people need medical treatment to successfully complete detox without relapsing,” said Mat Gorman, CEO of Briarwood Detox Center. In addition to medical treatment, massage therapy aids in reducing painful muscle aches, which are a common symptom associated with serious addiction withdrawals. This is especially true for those detoxing from opioids. 

Increased Serotonin and Dopamine 

Massage therapy increases serotonin and dopamine production. This helps balance mood swings caused by withdrawals. Similarly, increased dopamine and serotonin have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. All of these factors combined tend to improve overall mood and decrease depressive symptoms.  It is very common to have to ‘rewire’ your brain to release these hormones naturally, and massage therapy is a great natural way to initiate this. 

It Releases Endorphins 

Massages also release endorphins. This gives you a natural high that is most commonly associated with exercise. The release of endorphins along with the increased production of dopamine and serotonin works to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety, while also making you feel good in the process. Like with the natural release of hormones, the brain may need a jump start with learning to release endorphins without drugs or alcohol, and massage therapy is a simple way to do this. 

It Improves the Sleep Cycle 

In addition to decreasing depression and anxiety, the increased release of serotonin helps to regularize sleep patterns. Insomnia can be a common and difficult withdrawal symptom to deal with, but going to regular massage therapy has been proven to help improve this problem. The decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms also plays a role in improving sleep patterns. 

It Promotes Mindfulness 

Massage therapy promotes mindfulness in two ways. The first is that it often incorporates mindful breathing, which is also an important element of meditation. This calm environment and mindset promotes mindfulness and gets you more in tune with your feelings, thoughts, and emotions. The second way massage therapy promotes mindfulness is through increasing how in-tune you are with your body.  This can help you to better understand and acknowledge your withdrawal symptoms so you can treat them more effectively. 

It is a Way You Can Practice Self Care 

Massage therapy can be a great outlet for self-care. Remembering to relax is an important element to a personal care routine that many people overlook. Massage therapy decreases stress hormones, heart rate, and blood pressure, which naturally calms people down. This calming nature of massages is a good way to give yourself a way to relax. Besides, it is always good to treat yourself every now and then. 

It is a Good Trust Exercise 

It is normal for recovering alcoholics or drug addicts to have trouble trusting others. They may have mental health issues, past trauma, and/or negative associations with touch that are causing this. However, massage therapy can provide a safe environment for past addicts to relax, open up, and start trusting people in small increments. This may be an excellent first step for those in recovery to begin the process of trusting others in different areas of their life as well. Starting small and gradually moving forward is usually the best way to approach these types of complex emotional issues, and massage therapy may just be the small step that you need to get started. 

It’s Natural 

Massage therapy is a very natural treatment to help improve complications like insomnia, anxiety, and depression. No further medications or medical interference is required for massage therapy. This may be especially appealing to those recovering from addiction to prescription drugs because natural remedies reduce the chances of relapse or addiction to other substances. It is also an easy option for those looking for long-term, low-risk coping mechanisms.


There are many benefits to attending regular massage therapy, which is helpful for recovering addicts to endure an alcohol or drug detox and have a smooth recovery. The natural release of endorphins and hormones like serotonin and dopamine helps improve with withdrawal complications such as depression, stress, and anxiety. It can also be a great way for those in recovery to work on relaxing and improving on their trust issues. However, attending massage therapy is often not enough to treat addiction, and it is crucial that you continue the therapy and treatment plans suggested for you by addiction and healthcare professionals along with this.

Chris Myrss
Chris Myers is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. Chris Myers has a BA in English & Journalism and wide-ranging background in digital media.