by Sidney McDonald





We all realize these days that opioid addiction is a serious national health crisis. Prescription opioids carry serious risk of addiction, abuse, and overdose, in addition to a number of side effects, even when taken as directed. According to the Centers for Disease Control, deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999.


People suffering from addiction often follow a sedentary lifestyle with no physical activity in their daily routines. They live a kind of ritualized existence. Massage makes them more flexible, decreases worries [and] racing thoughts, and increases their energy level. Massage for recovery … becomes a tool for greater energy and self-awareness, both physical and emotional. Learning self-care is a big part of recovery. Massage utilizes bodywork to balance the spirit. This helps people see that there are other solutions to problems in life. The initial response to massage involves relief from physical pain, which often unleashes a range of emotions. Touch releases them and the things they’ve been holding onto. Once massage has cleared an internal space, the patient can then begin to accept and process new information, i.e., new beneficial behaviors.


The number of patients who could be treated either by massage therapy or opioid prescriptions was determined through analysis of data published by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a 2015 report. The number of individuals with the potential to benefit from massage therapy can be as many as 5 million patients in the U.S., with the potential to reduce the number of people with addiction disorder by 111,137 per year. This projection suggests providing massage therapy as a tool for pain management instead of opioids could save the United States between $23.59 and $25.99 billion annually in social and economic costs associated with early death, treatment and crime prevention. This analysis examines the costs and benefits of replacing opioid pain killers with massage therapy where evidence indicates it is appropriate and effective. The President's Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) estimated that in 2015, the cost of the opioid crisis was $504 billion. Non-pharmacologic approaches such as massage therapy can replace opioids for many types of pain


Here are Ten Survival Tips for loving an addicted person. I will address this opioid issue from the perspective of those persons living with an addicted person.


  1. Come face to face with reality.      Ignoring the fact that a loved one is addicted will certainly not eliminate them being an addict. It is what it is.
  2. Discover how to love an addicted person – and stay healthy.      The key is to understand that the addiction is not yours.  It is solely the addict’s problem. It is only a part of them, not their totality.
  3. You cannot control or ‘fix’ another person, so stop trying!      An addiction is an internal issue for the addict. The addict must ‘fix’ themselves and will only do so when they are internally ready to do so. Your efforts can frustrate you and further alienate the addict.
  4. Stop blaming the other person and become willing to look at yourself.       If you are providing an environment which condones or otherwise permits addictive behaviors, then realize your role is no help.
  5. Learn the difference between helping and enabling.     Loving addicts leads us to subconsciously want to do things to cover up addictive behaviors and actions. Taking on responsibility for their addictive behaviors (and misbehaviors), covering for them, hiding things from them, ignoring addictive signs, accepting their excuses, etc, will not improve or solve anything. Your life and living should not have to adjust to their addiction and addictive behavior.
  6. Don’t give in to manipulation.    Addicts use emotional and social pressure to continue with their addictions. They prey on emotional weakness.
  7. Ask yourself the ‘Magic Question’.       Do you . .the children. . the Family . . your future . . your life . . your lifestyle . . your goals . . do these rank above the addict’s destructive behaviors and financial and emotional stress and strains?
  8. Know that “Self-care’’ does not equal “selfish.”
  9. Rebuild your own life.      You are always responsible to yourself FIRST.
  10. Don’t wait until the situation is really bad --- reach out for help Now!


Fortunately, holistic therapies are now proving very effective as treatment for addictive behaviors. In particular, massage therapies, in conjunction with other treatment methodologies, can greatly increase the efficacy of recovery and beneficial outcomes. When included in recovery programming, massage therapies are able to help addicts reconnect with themselves. It is this return to themselves that is the great value in massage therapies.  


As a massage therapist, I highly recommend the inclusion of massage into all addiction therapy programming.





Sidney McDonald, B.S., LMT
Certified Geriatric Massage Therapist

You owe it to yourself.

Massage by HARAMBE

Sidney McDonald             412.654.3749