Physical touch is healing. In residential treatment programs for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction there are typically numerous healing modalities offered which revolve around physical touch or healing. For example, massage therapy, is a healing touch modality. Reiki, energy healing, can also include physical touch. Human bodies need to be touched. Human connection through physical touch breaks the psychological barrier of feeling isolated, alienated, and withdrawn. That is because physical touch has a two-fold psychological effect- emotional and biological.
A number of hormones and chemicals are produced in the brain when we experience touch. Physical touch can bring us pleasure, which is caused by dopamine production. We can also experience a sort of relief, produced by opioids and endorphins. The “love hormone” oxytocin is known to heal our hearts and make us feel all the warm and fuzzy feelings of love we get when we embrace and are embraced. Production of these feel good chemical s in the brain helps to combat the negative chemicals of stress. Any kind of therapy or practice which reduces stress is strongly suggested to addicts and alcoholics in recovery, as well as everyone else. Chronic untreated stress can lead to heart disease and the development of many illnesses. Reducing stress through physical touch is healing for the immediate moment and for the future. Some science has even suggested we need at least eight hugs a day to be truly healthy.
Emotionally, physical touch has representations. All humans have basic needs of food, water, and shelter. These are our most primary needs for basic survival. Life is lush. Human life is offered much, much more than basic survival. Addicts and alcoholics who come to treatment have often been surviving. Even with a laundry list of life’s luxuries at their fingertips, they have been emotionally getting by, nourished by nothing else but the basics. Physical touch is part of the way we create thriving relationships as humans. We have other needs like being acknowledged, being understood, being seen, being heard, and most critically, humans have a need for being loved. Everyone is deserving of love. The small act of physical touch, like offering a hug, holding someone’s hand, lightly touching their shoulder, communicates that interpersonal connection of humanity, which is the most healing therapy there is.
Lakehouse Recovery Center offers the best in clinically based and holistically based therapies. Inclusive of both recovery and non-recovery activities, our residential treatment programs give clients an opportunity to define life in recovery for themselves, and have fun in the process. For information, call us today at: 877.762.3707