Aromatherapy in Addiction Recovery

It is never easy to recover from a drug or alcohol addiction, but anyone who has made the arduous journey from addiction to recovery will assert that it is worth every effort.

Fortunately, those in recovery have plenty of traditional and alternative resources that can help smooth the process out. If you’ve been looking for something to help alleviate the sometimes grueling physiological and psychological effects of recovery, you may want to consider aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy will not cure an addiction, but is rather a relatively inexpensive therapeutic treatment. There are also aromatherapy essential oils and other products that can be applied topically or inhaled, but the traditional method to reap the benefits of the aromatic oils is to diffuse their vapors into the air. Diffusers heat the essential oil, dispersing it into the air as a vapor, or diffusing sticks can be dipped into the oils to help get the oil vapors airborne.

While some of aromatherapy’s claims have not been backed by scientific study, there are existing studies that have shown aromatherapy to have several health benefits. Keep in mind that benefits tend to be more emotional and psychological than medical. Benefits include:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Help with mindfulness/meditation
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced discomfort, pain, and anxiety

How do you know which essential oils to use? Following are some suggestions for diffusion into the air or topical application beneath the nose.

  • Grapefruit, cinnamon, or basil oils can help curb cravings.
  • A couple of drops of black pepper oil, when applied to chewing gum, can also help with cravings.
  • Pine, orange, and lemon oils are stimulants, known to enhance a user’s mood, relieve stress, regulate emotions, and give a helpful burst of energy.
  • Eucalyptus oil opens up the breathing airways, and helps users feel a boost of vitality.
  • Rosemary, sage, or ginger oils can help with mental clarity.
  • Lavender, Ylang Ylang, clary sage, and chamomile oils are good anxiety reducers and help promote calm and relaxation. They also provide a perfectly healthy way to help take the edge off after a stressful day or settle down for a good night’s sleep.
  • Dill oil can be surprisingly effective at helping users cope with feelings of being overwhelmed. It is also helps calm and relax.
  • Peppermint oil is great for help with bodily discomforts and/or headaches that may occur due to withdrawals. It is also effective to help relieve nausea.
  • Sandalwood and cedarwood oils can help put users into a contemplative/meditative mood. Eucalyptus oil also helps with being mindfully present.
  • Jasmine, bergamot, and rosemary oils are known to boost the mood in a room and help those with depression.
  • Clove oil can help with muscle tension and joint pain when applied topically.

Essential oils should not be ingested unless specifically designed to do so. Note that the use of essential oils should be ongoing, as the effects are short-term. Also, note that when you are ingesting aromatic oils, be sure to use only therapeutic grade oils – non-therapeutic grade oils may contain additives that can be toxic if swallowed.

Before beginning aromatherapy, you should consult with a physician and a trained aromatherapist to ensure that the use of these oils will not interfere with any specific medical conditions, including pregnancy.

Have you ever thought you might benefit from addiction recovery? If you’ve found your drinking and/or drug use to be problematic in your life and would like to discuss what your best options are, our experienced team can help. 


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