Archive for the 'Massage: Hands Down' Category

Oct 01 2011

Massage: Hands Down, a Treatment for Addiction part 1

Massage is often labeled an alternative therapy in addiction treatment. Yet today’s evolving integrative health paradigm acknowledges massage, along with other body therapies, as a natural and logical instrument of human healing. The scientific study of massage is in its infancy, but recent research documents the effectiveness of massage and bears implications for the treatment of and recovery from addiction.

First, the meaning of touch
Even before human bodies become full bodies, touch is the first of the five senses to develop in the embryo and the most vital for survival (Dossey, B., Keegan, L. & Guzzetta, C., 2000). The skin is the largest sense organ of the body; a piece of skin the size of a quarter contains more than 3 million cells, 12 feet of nerves and approximately 900,000 sensory receptors (Dossey et al., 2000; Montagu & Matson, 1979). From this perspective, the skin is a giant communication system that, through touch, brings messages from a person’s external environment to his or her internal attention.

Given the potential powerful effects of touch, massage can play an important role in all aspects of recovery from addictions — from detoxification, when it is a valuable healing tool, through primary inpatient or outpatient treatment, when it increases awareness and promotes relaxation, to post-treatment, when it contributes to relapse prevention strategies, stress management, and the body’s innate healing power that leads to optimal health in recovery.

Joni Kosakoski, BSN, RN, CARN ( ) has practiced nursing for more than 25 years, the last 10 specializing in addictions. She is a member of the American Holistic Nurses Association and The International Nurses Society on Addictions.

Collinge,W. and Duhl, L.(1997). American Holistic Health Association Complete Guide to Alternative Medicine. New York: Warner Books.
Dossey, B., Keegan, L. & Guzzetta, C. (2000) Holistic Nursing: A handbook for practice, Third edition. New York: Aspen Publishers, Inc., p.618.
Field, T. (2002). Massage therapy. Medical Clinics of North America, 86, 163-171.
Lidell, L., Thomas, S., & Beresford-Cooke, C. (2001). The Book of Massage: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Eastern and Western Techniques. New York: Fireside.
Montagu, A. & Matson, F. (1979). The Human Connection. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., pp. 89-90.
Touch Research Institute. (2003). Massage therapy database. Available:
Various authors. (December/January 2003). Massage and Bodywork, 17, 6. Selected articles on addiction and reprints available:

Comments Off