In recent years, the public health problem of substance abuse has reached an unprecedented, yet unsurprising, high. Doctors are prescribing pain pills and muscle relaxants without first considering natural modalities.

Many of the conditions these pills are prescribed for could easily be reduced or even eliminated if massage therapy was prescribed instead. Since it is not, we are back to dealing with the issue at hand, substance abuse.

Now that holistic medicine has become more widely accepted, more doctors and patients are seeking massage and alternative methods for substance abuse treatment.

Massage has been used since ancient times as a method of healing many different “dis-eases” including substance abuse.

Massage promotes a chemical change in the brain that allows for healing and relaxation.

During the withdrawal process, and even into early recovery, the brain’s ability to secrete the hormone dopamine is lowered. Dopamine is the chemical messenger responsible for making us feel good when we are doing something we enjoy.

In 1998, the Touch Research Institute found that a regular massage produced long time results of increasing dopamine levels.

Since massage naturally increases dopamine levels and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, it is the naturally perfect addition to any standard detoxification program.

Healing the neurochemistry of an addict takes time. Massage treatments immediately following the detoxification phase are extremely important.

When a person relies on substances to feel good, his or her body stops making its own ‘feel good chemicals’ or endorphins.

First discovered in 1975, endorphins or Endogenous Morphine (The body’s natural morphine created by the body itself) is only one of the several morphine like opioids discovered in our brains.

When a person quits abusing a substance that has been making them feel good, it takes time for the body to start creating its own endorphins again. During this time, the person is very vulnerable falling back into old habits.

The publication, General Pharmacology, reported back in 1989 that massage therapy increased the amount of beta-endorphins by as much as 16%. Beta-endorphins are neurotransmitters found in the neurons of both the central and peripheral nervous system as a natural pain suppressants.

The release of endorphins and beta-endorphins during massage allows the recipient to feel normal even without the aid of drugs. This can be powerful and life changing for many.


During massage, circulation is increased which encourages the body to naturally detoxify. Stress and tension is reduced making it easier for the body to release its hold on chemicals stuck in the soft tissues.


During massage a person learns to identify and manage triggers that cause them to want to escape. Regular massage aids in awareness of the person’s own body including where and when tension exists. Emotional releases are common with massage and are considered safe and non-threatening opportunity to begin to process long buried emotions, memories and traumas.


During a massage a person is introduced to the still inner place of peace and healing within themselves. Being grounded and centered allows the person to face the world with the knowledge that they can be anchored and present, as well as substance free.

Massage is one of the very few ways to affect the body mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is truly a holistic form of healing. Healing on so many levels can be an amazing life experience for anyone.