Addiction recovery is a multifaceted process. The different addiction recovery techniques help with managing addiction triggers and cope with the emotional stress and physical trauma that usually accompany our decision to quit.
Substances such as alcohol and drugs wreak havoc on the body, leaving you vulnerable, disoriented, and scarred. It’s also not easy to get help. Quitting can leave you dealing with withdrawal symptoms, which are equally painful and can discourage you from even trying. Aided by medical intervention along with holistic treatment, however, can help you easily triumph over the withdrawals.
Aromatherapy is one such holistic method. This technique uses essential oils to engage your sense of smell which then influences you emotionally, mentally, and physically. Aromatherapy also boosts you spiritually, giving you a sense of belonging and completeness.
Here’s what you need to know about aromatherapy for addiction recovery:
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic purposes. The fragrance of the essential oils influences you emotionally and physically. The influence occurs because the scented oils stimulate your olfactory receptors, which then activate the limbic system and give positive signals to your brain.
As a result, your mood and behavior get regulated. You feel a sense of calmness, peace, and serenity wash over you. Your breathing, blood pressure, and stress levels also come under control.
Because drug use is so commonly associated with mental health, we should focus our recovery efforts on mental health as well. Many rehabs and recovery institutes, like the Palm Beach Institute, incorporate aromatherapy treatments along with other support-group therapies to ensure that the addicts can recover mentally as well.
A therapist will administer aromatherapy by infusing diluted essential oils into a diffuser or blending it in with a carrier oil and massaging it on your skin. Essential oils should never be ingested orally, injected, or applied directly into your nose and mouth.
What Is the Purpose of Aromatherapy?
The underlying use of aromatherapy is to help you relax, feel less stressed, and for treating various physical and mental ailments. By undergoing aromatherapy, you will find your wounds healing faster, infections getting cured, and your mood getting better. It will also help you overcome cravings as it distracts your mind and pushes along the path to recovery.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are extracted from different plants, flowers, herbs, and trees. The bottled solutions or oils are the essence collected after much steaming and pressing. The sense of smell is associated with the limbic system, which when stimulated with the help of fragrant smells can induce calm.
Here are some common examples of essential oils:
- Peppermint Oil. Helpful in boosting energy and aids in digestion
- Lavender Oil. Reduces stress
- Sandalwood Oil. It helps maintain focus and calms the nerves
- Rose Oil. It will enable you to overcome anxiety
- Tea Tree Oil. This allows you to combat infections and boosts your immunity
The list above is by no means exhaustive, and there are many other essential oils with their own properties and benefits.
How does Aromatherapy Help with Addiction?
Substance abuse leaves you dealing with more problems than one. Not only would you suffer from chronic illnesses but you will suffer emotionally, mentally, and even financially because of your addiction.
Therefore, when seeking treatment, you should focus on healing as a whole. Before your aromatherapy session starts, your therapist will prepare your body in a way that it can absorb the oils easily.
Here’s how aromatherapy works for addiction:
Relieves Physical Sensations
Quitting is not easy and carries withdrawal risks—one of which is the Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). Common withdrawal symptoms include, headaches, migraine attacks, aching joints, or abdomen cramps, which makes recovery that much harder.
The physical sensations can quickly become intense and intolerable. To make matters worse, you are not supposed to be taking any medication, risking relapse, when you are on a detox.
When going through withdrawals, it is better to use either the tea tree oil or Rosemary because these two oils have anti-inflammatory properties and help with loosening stiff muscle.
When you get these oils massaged into your skin, it imparts a pleasant and relaxing sensation to the muscles and brain by helping with serotonin release. Massage also helps improve circulation, which encourages better blood flow, reduces swelling, aching, and cramped muscles.
Aromatherapy Stabilizes Emotionally
Recovery is painful, where you not only have to struggle with the physical withdrawals but also cope with emotional side of recovery. Emotions can be a powerful thing to shake; impulses and raw emotions tend to take over instinctively and cause harm. When you don’t counter your emotions in your recovery, you also increase the likelihood of a relapse.
So, inhaling essential oils and practicing mindful meditation can help you feel calmer. The oils can bring back pleasant memories, and the scent increases your brain activity. When you feel happy, you start believing life more optimistically. Aromas stimulate the olfactory senses, which will uplift your spirit and make you feel better. Go for lavender, citrus, and chamomile oils to feel relaxed.
Helps with Withdrawals
Detox is a process through which toxic substances are purged from the body. This may cause you to become nauseous, start sweating profusely, and even tremble as you try to break your addiction. Aromatherapy can make the process easier by letting you detox with essential oils, such as peppermint. The flavorful scent makes your brain send out blissful signals, which will calm your hunger pangs, emptiness felt in the stomach, prevent you from vomiting.
Promotes Spiritual Wellness
It is not unusual to feel guilty, ashamed, and to even hate yourself for abusing substances. This will shatter your sense of worth and make you question your existence. Recovery is not possible unless you accept your shortcomings and make peace with yourself. Aromatherapy, combined with meditation, can help you learn to accept your flaws. Essential oils like Ylang Ylang can help boost your self-esteem and reduce anxiety when applied directly on the skin.
So, the next time you feel lost and confused after quitting, look into getting an aromatherapy session.
Takes Away Cravings
Using ginger, sage and rose oils will take away your cravings. The scents will distract you from your triggers and make your mind focused on more peaceful thoughts. The urge to indulge only gets amplified when you don’t mentally recover from addiction.
Therefore, a small session can help ease your pain and help you overcome cravings. Your thought process adjusts to the sobriety, making it less likely for you to act irrationally.
The path to recovery is not linear. You may need to rely on methods like aromatherapy to disengage your brain from addictive behaviors. Withdrawal is messy. It leaves you standing on shaky ground, vulnerable to give way to urges at any time. For preventing relapse, aromatherapy has been touted as one of the best methods that—with the application of the essential oils on your skin—takes over your sense of smell, induces calm and the release of serotonin, and uplifts you spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.