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Massage Therapy | Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale

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Massage Therapy: A Holistic Addiction Treatment Approach

There are many ways to treat drug and alcohol addiction, but the best treatment combines several types of therapies to provide patients with a “whole-person” approach. Massage therapy is one type of holistic treatment method that is useful in drug and alcohol rehab programs. In fact, massage therapy has been gaining popularity over the past few years due to its relaxing and therapeutic attributes. However, traditional treatments like medically-assisted detox and behavioral therapy still play an integral role in treating addiction. Holistic therapies are merely an added benefit.


Addiction is a chronic, deadly disease that often robs the people who suffer from it from their health and overall peace of mind. Furthermore, getting sober is equally as hard. During early recovery, people are extremely vulnerable and are experiencing emotions that they are used to numbing. Now, the substances are removed and patients must learn how to cope with these emotions in healthy ways. Early recovery is an emotional and stressful time, so it’s important to have a way to relieve that stress, relax, and take life a moment at a time. Plus, being more relaxed helps patients focus and participate in therapy and counseling, so they are able to put more energy and work into their recovery. Many holistic therapies focus on teaching people ways to cope with stress and relieve tension – which is exactly what massage therapy does.

What is Massage Therapy?

According to the Mayo Clinic, massage therapy is a “type of treatment in which a trained and certified medical professional manipulates the soft tissues of your body…using varying degrees of pressure and movement.”[1] This type of treatment is generally used as a complementary part of integrative medicine and is increasingly used to treat a variety of medical conditions.


During a session, a certified massage therapist presses and kneads on the patient’s muscles using different movements and techniques. The therapist applies varying amounts of pressure to muscles and joints to ease tension and relieve joint pain or tight muscles. Moreover, there are 12 major different types of massage that all target different needs and revolve around different specialties.[2] These techniques range anywhere from deep tissue massages and hot stone massages to cranial sacral massages or chair massages. Some target circulation, while others target joints, the brain, or body tissue. Each is different in its own ways but provides similar benefits to patients. The most popular types of massages include:

  • Swedish massage
  • Hot stone massage
  • Aromatherapy massage
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Sports massage
  • Trigger point massage
  • Reflexology
  • Shiatsu massage
  • Thai massage
  • Prenatal massage
  • Couples massage
  • Chair massage

When getting a massage during addiction treatment, the two most important things are to ensure that the masseuse is certified in massage therapy and that the technique will meet your specific health needs.

How Massage is Therapeutic

Despite the efficiency of massage as a therapy in addiction treatment and for other conditions, many people don’t think of massage as something therapeutic. Instead, it’s something people go do to treat themselves and relax. After all, when many people think of a massage, they think of a spa or a luxurious resort. However, these relaxing and pampering properties are exactly why massage is therapeutic. Studies show that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain, and muscle tension. It is even recommended to help treat people who suffer from cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, stomach problems, and other medical issues.[1]


Although massage therapy isn’t a substitute for regular medical care or behavioral therapy, it often produces feelings of comfort, care, and connection. Massage is therapeutic due it’s many benefits, including:[3]

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved fibromyalgia symptoms
  • Headache relief
  • Pain relief (lower back, neck, shoulder, osteoarthritis, and more)
  • Helping promote healing of sports injuries
  • Improved joint mobility and function
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood

Many people opt to get a massage after a long week or to relax when they finish a large project. However, massage therapy plays an increasingly large role in addiction treatment programs across the nation.

The Role of Massage Therapy in Addiction Treatment

When holistic therapies, such as massage therapy, are used as part of an addiction treatment program, they provide many benefits to patients. However, holistic therapy should never be the primary source of treatment. Instead, it’s important to use these therapies in conjunction with a comprehensive treatment program comprised of behavioral therapy, counseling, and peer support. Most aspects of substance abuse rehab are interactive and require the patient’s full attention. Patients apply new skills in therapy, learn about themselves and their triggers in counseling, and gain support from their peers. Massage therapy is different because it is a completely passive therapeutic technique that enhances the mind-body connection and reinforces the things learned in counseling sessions.


Before a massage, there’s nothing a patient needs to do to prepare besides wearing loose-fitting and comfortable clothing. Prior to your first massage therapy session at an addiction treatment center, the massage therapist should speak with you about any symptoms you are experiencing, your medical history, and what your goals for the massage are. To ensure your comfort and privacy, you will only be asked to undress to a point where you are comfortable.


Your massage therapist will then perform an evaluation to locate any tense, painful, or tender areas of the body to determine what type of massage to perform and how much pressure to apply. It’s important to communicate your needs and requests with your masseuse as their main priority is your comfort and safety during the session. Massage sessions may last anywhere from 10-90 minutes and you can expect to feel calm and relaxed after the session.

Benefits of Massage Therapy During Rehab

When a patient is at a drug and alcohol rehab facility, it’s normal for them to experience immense stress and anxiety. Although these feelings are expected, knowing how to cope with them is essential. It’s hard to focus on therapy and the healing process if you are overwhelmed with anxious thoughts. When people receive massage therapy during addiction treatment, they are able to release stress and tension in the mind and body. Furthermore, people with medical conditions that provoke chronic pain are able to benefit from massage because it can reduce their pain – providing patients with a way to cope with pain without the use of addictive medications.


During a massage, people aren’t only getting a stimulation of their muscles, but they’re getting their skin stimulated, too. The benefits of human touch are huge – especially when done in a therapeutic way. This kind of touch stimulates the central nervous system encouraging the brain to release dopamine – a feel-good chemical in the brain. Not only does this elevate the person’s mood, but it promotes relaxation and feelings of calmness.

The benefits of massage therapy during addiction treatment include:

  • Stress and anxiety relief
  • Helps aid the detoxification process of clearing toxic substances from the body
  • Enhanced mind-body connection
  • Relapse prevention
  • Pain relief in patients with chronic pain
  • Relieves withdrawal symptoms of some substances
  • Improved quality of life in patients with underlying conditions
  • Improved symptoms of mental health conditions
  • Increased mood and emotion regulation


Studies have proven the effectiveness of massage therapy for addiction treatment. In fact, massage therapy is proven to help improve symptoms of eating disorders, depression, anxiety, dissociation, stress, and physical symptoms in patients who suffer from substance use disorders.[4] Individuals who are under a lot of stress are more likely to begin using drugs or alcohol again to cope. Furthermore, massage therapy during substance abuse treatment provokes a mind-body connection that helps improve a patient’s self-care and coping skills, allowing them to stay sober longer and effectively prevent relapse.


Find Out How Massage Therapy and Addiction Treatment Can Help You

Massage therapy during addiction treatment is a powerful tool that can help you improve your overall health and well-being. Not only does it relieve stress, anxiety, and pain, which are all triggers of relapse, but it provides a therapeutic place for you to sit back, unwind, and relax from all of the challenges you are facing during early recovery.


At Agape Treatment Center, our drug and alcohol rehab in Fort Lauderdale partners with most experienced and trusted massage therapists in the area. As a complementary therapy, massage is just one added bonus of attending a treatment center that takes on a “whole-patient” approach. Not only will you receive comprehensive addiction treatment, but you will have access to regular massage therapy sessions to help you throughout the recovery process. Contact us today to find out how addiction treatment and massage therapy can help you.







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