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Using Aromatherapy in Addiction Treatment

Written on April 15, 2023
Using Aromatherapy in Addiction Treatment

Aromatherapy can be a helpful tool in addiction treatment. Aromatherapy is a type of alternative medicine that involves the use of essential oils, which are concentrated plant extracts, to promote physical and psychological well-being. Some people use aromatherapy as a complementary treatment for addiction, as it is believed that certain essential oils can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Though aromatherapy should not be used as a sole treatment for addiction and it is always best to work with a qualified healthcare professional when seeking treatment for substance abuse, it can compliment addiction treatment and provide opportunity to practice mindfulness.


How Does Aromatherapy Work?

Aromatherapy works by using essential oils, which are concentrated plant extracts that contain the natural aroma and other therapeutic properties of the plant. These oils are typically inhaled or applied topically, and they are thought to interact with the body in a number of ways.

When essential oils are inhaled, the molecules enter the body through the olfactory system, which is the part of the brain responsible for smell. This can trigger a response in the brain, which may have a variety of effects, such as reducing stress or promoting relaxation. When essential oils are applied topically, they may be absorbed through the skin and interact with the body in a similar way.


How is Aromatherapy Used in Group Therapy?

Aromatherapy can be used in group therapy sessions in a number of ways. For example, essential oils with calming properties, such as lavender or chamomile, can be diffused in the therapy room to create a relaxing atmosphere. Participants in the group therapy session may also be invited to inhale the aroma of the essential oils directly from a tissue or cotton ball, or to apply a small amount of the oil topically, such as to their pulse points or the soles of their feet.

Some group therapy sessions may also include guided visualization exercises or other mindfulness practices that involve the use of essential oils. It is important to note that aromatherapy should be used in combination with other therapeutic interventions and should not be relied upon as a sole treatment for addiction or other mental health conditions.


Addiction, Trauma, and Aromatherapy

Addiction is most often a maladaptive coping mechanism to an underlying issue, primary trauma. Aromatherapy promotes physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It has been found to be helpful in treating trauma by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms and promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that are used in aromatherapy. When inhaled or applied topically, essential oils can stimulate the olfactory system, which is connected to the emotional center of the brain, and produce a calming effect.

Aromatherapy can help individuals who have experienced trauma by:

  • Reducing stress: Essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, and ylang-ylang are known for their calming properties and can help reduce stress and anxiety symptoms.
  • Promoting relaxation: Essential oils like chamomile, geranium, and frankincense can help promote relaxation and calmness, which can be especially helpful for individuals with PTSD who often experience hyperarousal and difficulty sleeping.
  • Easing depression symptoms: Essential oils like citrus oils (e.g., lemon, orange, grapefruit) and peppermint can help boost mood and energy levels, which can be helpful for individuals with depression symptoms.
  • Enhancing overall well-being: Essential oils like rose and jasmine can promote feelings of self-love and self-care, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have experienced trauma and may struggle with self-esteem issues.

It’s important to note that aromatherapy should be used as a complementary therapy and not a replacement for professional mental health treatment. If you are experiencing trauma or other mental health issues, it’s important to seek the help of a qualified mental health professional. We are always available for no-cost consultation.