In this article, you’re going to learn about the awesome benefits of “Hugging Therapy” for opiate addiction recovery. When a person gets off opioids, the acute withdrawal symptoms can be seriously horrific.
And then comes the post-acute withdrawal symptoms — which aren’t as severe as the acute symptoms — but tend to linger on for at least a month or two… and often longer.
Prescription medications often provide the most symptoms relief for the acute withdrawal.
Hugging Therapy is one such natural method.
The science and research support this, and I’m sure you know from experience how amazing a really good hug can feel.
Read on to learn about the most important benefits you’ll receive from using Hugging Therapy for opiate recovery.
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Benefits of Hugging
Hugging has been proven to increase both health and happiness. When you’re getting off opioids, your health and happiness tend to be pretty low, so anything natural and safe that can increase health and mood would be beneficial.
While there are many benefits of hugging, the ones I’m going to focus on in this article are the ones that will help with opiate addiction recovery the most.
1. Hugging Reduces Stress
Recovering from opiate addiction is always stressful. For some, the process is only a little stressful, but for most people, the process is very stressful.
Hugging can help to reduce stress.
And it can do so for the giver and the receiver of the hug.
In a study from 2012, researchers concluded the study as follows: “Results suggest that support giving may be beneficial not only for the receiver but also for the giver. Implications for the possible stress-reducing effects of support giving are discussed.”
So the method of stress reduction from a hug is by another human “showing support.” We are social creatures, and in the US, it appears that many people are becoming more socially isolated, disconnected, and lonely than ever before.
Daily hugs can help to offset these feelings, and can also help to reduce stress when you’re getting off opioids.
2. Hugging Lowers Blood Pressure
Many people coming off opioids have elevated blood pressure levels. Opioids are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and when an opioid-dependent individual comes off opioids, their CNS is no longer being depressed.
But instead of going back to the baseline, there is a “rebound effect.”
The CNS essentially goes into hyperdrive, activating the fight or flight response and flooding the body with stress hormones like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol.
Blood pressure skyrockets… which makes it impossible for a person to remain calm and relaxed.
In a study from 2003, couples holding hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20-second hug showed a greater reduction in blood pressure and heart rate than couples who sat in silence for the same amount of time.
Obviously, hugging alone wouldn’t be nearly powerful enough to alleviate acute opioid withdrawal symptoms.
However, if you’re already taking powerful withdrawal remedies to reduce symptoms, hugging could offer additional “add-on support.”
And getting multiple daily hugs during the first couple of months after detoxing is an absolutely epic tactic to use.
3. Hugging Increases Oxytocin
Depression is a common symptom people experience when they get off opioids. Levels of dopamine and other neurotransmitters plummet, causing a cascade of symptoms like depression, anxiety, insomnia, and exhaustion to name just a few.
Hugging can help to alleviate depression by increasing oxytocin levels in the brain.
Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter.
It is released during sex, cuddling, and hugging, and it’s often referred to as the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone” because of this.
Elevating oxytocin levels by hugging is an awesome way to alleviate symptoms of depression while you’re quitting opioids.
4. Hugging Could Reduce Pain
Going through opioid withdrawal is physically painful. When you take opioid drugs, they bind to your mu opioid receptors. This “turns the receptors on” and leads to the production of massive amounts of endorphins.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters which act as natural painkillers.
Prolonged daily use of opioids for a few weeks and especially longer lead to your brain becoming dependent on opioids to manufacture endorphins.
When you get off opioids, the brain doesn’t start producing endorphins on its own right away.
It usually takes at least a few weeks or months for your brain to start producing adequate levels of endorphins for you to feel good.
During this window, since you have fewer endorphins you experience more physical and emotional pain.
Hugging may be able to help offset this imbalance.
Research from 2009 suggested that human touch may help to alleviate pain.
And hugging is a form of human touch.
Additionally, many opioid-dependent individuals began using opioids for pain, as prescribed by a doctor. If a person has some type of chronic pain syndrome, when they get off opioids their pain may increase significantly.
Hugging and other forms of human touch may be able to help.
In a study from 2004, participants with fibromyalgia that received six sessions of “light touch treatment” reported a reduction of pain.
How To Use Hugging Therapy For Opiate Recovery
Social media, smartphones, and advancements in technology have led to a superabundance of benefits. However, on the other side of the coin, it seems that these same things are at least partially responsible for people feeling less connected to each other.
Statistics confirm that the US population as a whole is more depressed and less socially connected than ever before.
Fortunately, hugs can help!
Do yourself a favor and set an intention to get at least 8-12 hugs a day from now on.
The more hugs you give and receive during the process of recovering from opioid dependence the better.
Here are six steps to using Hugging Therapy for opiate addiction recovery:
- Give or receive a minimum of 8 hugs per day, and try to get 12 or more. You get the benefits from both giving and receiving, so give lots of hugs and ask for some too!
- Hug your intimate partner, cuddle with them, and give each other massages.
- Hug your kids, and ask them to give you hugs.
- Hug your parents.
- Hug your friends.
- You can even cuddle up with dogs, cats, and certain other pets.
- Getting off opioid drugs is a stressful process that typically leads to physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, both acute and post-acute.
- While prescription medications are often the most helpful for treating acute detox symptoms, natural healing modalities are often the best to use for post-acute detox symptoms.
- Hugging Therapy is a natural way to boost mood and health during the process of opioid detox and recovery.
- Hugging has been shown in studies to reduce stress, depression, heart rate, and blood pressure.
- Hugging and other forms of human touch may also help to reduce pain.
- Give and receive plenty of hugs daily during opioid detox, recovery, and beyond.
- Aim for at least 8-12 hugs per day… and the more the better.
If you have any comments or questions on the topic of Hugging Therapy for opiate addiction recovery, please post them in the comment box below.