Drug overdose is the leading cause of death in the United States, and opioid addiction is the number one reason for this statistic. Despite the high probability for a dangerous addiction, opioids have been heavily prescribed by doctors for the last several decades. It is only recently that the dangerous problem of opioid addiction is receiving a spotlight in the media. Now, doctors and patients alike are looking for alternatives, not only to opioid prescription, but also for methods to treat existing addicts. In this post, we’ll look at the effectiveness of massage for opioid addiction. We’ll also examine massage as an alternative treatment to opioids for managing pain.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 78 Americans die EACH DAY from opioid overdose. Could massage therapy be a safe alternative to opioid use for managing pain? And beyond pain, could massage therapy help addicts overcome their addiction? Massage therapy involves not only a physical process of relaxing muscles and surrounding tissues of the body, but also facilitates increased awareness of the body and emotional state of the recipient. Being deeply therapeutic for mind and body, with no negative side effects, massage is being investigated as a treatment method to help combat the opioid crisis.
One study involved opioid addicts receiving methadone as treatment. Of those patients, half continued to receive the methadone treatment and half received the methadone treatment plus 8 weekly 50-minute Swedish massage sessions. At the end of 8 weeks, the massage group reported less pain.
Last year, NPR ran a story of a pain management center in Portland, Oregon, the Quest Center for Integrative Health. Patients here reported treatments like acupuncture were just as effective for managing their pain as the opioid prescriptions. According to the director of the center, David Eisen,
There should be an array of things for people to choose from, whether it be chiropractic care, or naturopathic care, or acupuncture, nutrition, massage. Try those things — and if they don’t work, you use opioids as a last resort.
Although there have been numerous studies over the years providing evidence for massage therapy as an effective treatment for pain, more research is needed to establish credibility of massage as an effective alternative for opioid prescriptions specifically and for massage as a treatment of opioid addiction. In the mean time, for those suffering from addiction, consider using massage and other alternative treatments as safe adjuncts to your existing addiction rehabilitation program. Remember to always discuss alternative treatments with your doctor or primary health care physician.
To Curb Pain Without Opioids, Oregon Looks To Alternative Treatments
Massage Impact on Pain in Opioid-dependent Patients in Substance Use Treatment
Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts and Figures
Massage Therapy Has a Role in Pain Management