Reiki and the Road to Recovery

September is national substance abuse recovery month.  It is safe to say that this country has been experiencing a substance abuse crisis for some time.  The state that I write from, Vermont, is certainly experiencing an epidemic with opioid addiction.  However, it isn’t just illegal drugs causing this problem, there is also rampant misuse of prescribed medications causing both addiction and dependency.  Addiction doesn’t just affect those who use drugs and alcohol; it affects their loved ones and the greater community.  While there are mainstream treatments, both successful and sometimes not so much, for people trying to become sober, there are also other effective supports for people as they begin their journey of recovery that are less often talked about and utilized.  Reiki and mindfulness are practices that can significantly help people suffering from substance abuse.


Practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, mindfulness, and Reiki are some examples of additional approaches to traditional treatment for substance abuse therapy.  As for Reiki, there are several ways in which it can be useful.  Those in early recovery often are experiencing significant distress in their body due to withdrawal symptoms; Reiki can help make those feelings more tolerable.   Reiki encourages the body to rid itself of toxins and assists the body to self-heal faster.


Those in early recovery often experience intense anxiety and are often on an emotional roller coaster.  Anger, uncertainty, fear, guilt, hopelessness, and shame are usually the main feeling experiences during the first few months in recovery.  The relaxation benefit of Reiki can reduce the risk of relapse during this highly emotional time and help the individual learn new coping strategies crucial for the success of living a new way of being.


Sleep disturbances are often another symptom of early recovery.  Insomnia and lack of sleep can lead to poor mental health and difficulty with emotional regulation.  Good sleep is fundamental for the body’s ability to heal and to function properly in the daily world.  Reiki is often said to be beneficial for normalizing healthy sleep patterns.


Self-esteem and self-worth are issues inherently tied in with people who suffer from substance abuse addiction.  Reiki can target issues in one’s past that are repetitively causing problems in the present.  Reiki can help one feel at peace in their own skin aiding value and meaning to one’s life experience.  Reiki can encourage moving forward in life versus continually living in the past.  


Spirituality is a traditional component of 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.  Those in early recovery often have a feeling that their higher power has left or forgotten them, or is non-existence.  Reiki can aid one’s understanding of their relationship to spirituality and a higher power without rigid religious beliefs. 


Unfortunately, addiction does not just affect an individual, it affects that person’s friends, family and otherwise loved ones.  It is often tragic and heartbreaking for all those who care for the afflicted individual.  Supporting those loved ones is extremely important!  Finding the necessary emotional and mental support reinforces the inner strength necessary to carry on when dealing with a loved one suffering with addiction.  Reiki can help one lose their emotional attachment while still embracing the active addict/alcoholic with love.  It promotes wellbeing for caregivers as well as loved ones!


This article isn’t meant to encourage Reiki as a replacement for necessary medical treatment.  However, this article is meant to encourage you to think about additional, alternative methods to addiction recovery.  In my opinion, all recovery options should be explored, embraced and shared.  If you have further questions or comments regarding Reiki and addiction/recovery, please leave them in the comments section below and I will do my best to respond promptly.


Hilary Denton