Alternative Therapies for People in Recovery

Recovering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs can be a challenge, but there are many great resources available that can make the process easier. Any minor discomforts that the individual experiences during the initial settling in period to sobriety will be worth it because of the benefits to be gained by this new way of living, but it is possible to reduce these discomforts to a minimum. One way of doing this is to make use of alternative therapies such as aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy Explained

Aromatherapy has been practiced for centuries by different cultures around the world – it is believed to date back to antiquity. Today it is classified as a type of alternative medicine or holistic treatment. It involves using various plant materials and aromatic ingredients in order to produce scents that are believed to benefit mental, physical, and spiritual health. The individual benefits from the properties of these mixtures through inhalation.

Essential Oils are the liquids used in aromatherapy. They are made up from the oils of plants or other compounds. These oils are often usually obtained by distillation – this is a method of separating mixtures that involves boiling. The different essential oils that are created by this process are not only used for aromatherapy, but they can also be found in cosmetics and sometimes even food. There are many different types of essential oils that are used for a multitude of purposes – one single essential oil can have up to a hundred different compounds inside of it.

How Aromatherapy Works

It is possible to begin benefiting from aromatherapy without spending much money. All that is really needed is some essential oil and a diffuser. The purpose of the diffuser is to heat the essential oil so that it can enter the air as a vapor. There are also some aromatherapy products that can be directly inhaled or applied to the body – this should only be done with products designed for this purpose. Essential oils vary in price with small quantities (15 ml) costing anywhere from $5 to $50 – these days it is possible to find things even cheaper online but it is important to only deal with a reliable supplier. There are different types of diffuser available with some using candles while others will use a special electrical light bulb to heat the essential oil. It is usual to mix the oil with water in the diffuser. It is also suggested that people investigate the different types of products available to decide which ones will most benefit them – this will depend on what function they wish the essential oil to perform.

Aromatherapy for People in Recovery

Aromatherapy cannot cure addiction, but these compounds can be of value to people recovering from an addiction. Some of the benefits of using these products include:

* Some essential oils can be effective at helping people relax. This can be particularly important for people in early recovery who can find adjusting to their new life a bit overwhelming at times.
* It is fairly common for people in the first year of recovery to complain of a fuzzy brain – this can occur as a result of the initial withdrawals or post acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). There are some essential oils that can increase mental clarity.
* Many people complain of difficulties sleeping during the early days of recovery. Essential oils in evening will be able to relax them and put them in the mood for sleep.
* Meditation can be of great benefit to those who are recovering from an addiction. Some people find that essential oils help them fall more easily into a meditative state – although people need to be careful because if the aroma is too noticeable it will act as a distraction.
* Some of these products can be good at lifting people’s mood.
* There are oils that can help people reduce their anxiety levels.
* They can help lessen the impact of withdrawal symptoms such as body discomfort and nausea.

Essential Oils that May be of Benefit to People in Recovery

The following essential oils may be of value to people in recovery:

* Lavender oil is sometimes referred to as the oil of peace because of its ability to help people become calm and relaxed. This is a good choice for people who want to get in the mood for sleep or just want to unwind at the end of a busy day.
* Ylang Ylang is another essential oil that is believed to be good for relaxation.
* Lemon oil is believed to enhance mood and make people feel like they have more energy. There is also some evidence to suggest that it can help people deal better with stress.
* Peppermint oil is said to be good for helping people deal with minor body discomforts such as mild headaches. It is also good for relieving nausea – this can be a problem for people going through withdrawals.
* The smell of Sandalwood is commonly found in Buddhist and Hindu temples where it is used in incense. It can be good for putting people in the mood for contemplation.
* Bergamot oil is believed to help alleviate mild symptoms of depression.
* Eucalyptus oil is good for opening up the airways and it can make people feel like they have more energy.
* Chamomile oil is another essential oil that is good for promoting relaxation and sleep.
* Clary Sage is said to be good for reducing levels of anxiety and promoting sleep.
* Dill oil is said to help people deal with feelings of being overwhelmed, and it is also good for general relaxation.
* Ginger oil is said to be a mild stimulant. This means that it may lift mood and increase mental clarity.
* Jasmine is said to lift the mood and can be used as a mild antidepressant.
* Pine is also said to act as a stimulant that can lift mood.
* Rosemary can have mild antidepressant qualities.

Efficacy of Aromatherapy

Some of the claims for aromatherapy have not been backed by scientific studies. Most of the benefits from using these products will tend to be short term. There is good evidence to support the claim that oils such as lavender do have a calming effect – it is also true that some products do lift mood. Rachel Herz is a psychologist who investigated the impact of aromatherapy on people’s emotions in her book The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Engimatic Sense of Smell. She concluded that these scents do have an impact on people’s emotions, and they can be used to lift mood. People are advised to be more cautious about any medical claims made for these oils, and to never use them as a replacement for needed medical treatment.

Things to Consider with Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is generally considered safe, but there are things worth considering before using these products including:

* Never ingest any essential oil unless it has been specifically designed for that purpose.
* Aromatherapy is like most things in life – best in moderation.
* It is recommended that people follow the instructions for the use of the different products.
* Those individuals who have any type of respiratory problems such as asthma need to be particularly careful around these oils. It is advised that they avoid them completely unless given the ok by their physician.
* It is important to be aware of any potential side effects related to these products – for example, rosemary can sometimes lead to a rise in blood pressure and should be avoided by people who have hypertension.
* Hyssop oil may trigger seizures in those people who have a history of convulsions.
* Pregnant women are usually advised to avoid aromatherapy.
* These products can be dangerous if they get into the eyes. People need to be careful to wash their hands if any of the oil has gotten onto their skin – otherwise they could accidentally rub the oil into the skin.
* It is advised that those people who have any type of estrogen dependent cancers should avoid oils such as aniseed, fennel, and sage which are estrogen like compounds. This would include breast and ovarian cancer.
* The cost of essential oils can vary a great deal so it is advisable to shop around. Some products cost far more than others, but the only real difference will be the brand name.