In a way, we all suffer from addictions. Not all are life-threatening and can be controlled. But others, that change personalities, and behaviors are very serious. Check out a simple and pleasant complementary treatment. Enjoy the benefits of a few essential oils for addiction recovery and withdrawal symptoms.
In this post, you’ll read about:
- What addiction is and what its connection to Aromatherapy is.
- The way Aromatherapy oils work to your benefit. Essential oils have a great potential. They can help you manage your addiction, whatever it may be.
- Some of the best essential oils to help with addiction symptoms. It’s true, there is very little research done on this matter. The little that there is, however, shows that they may truly help you cope easier.
- How to use these aromatic essences to make the best of their health benefits.
- Essential oil blends to try right away, whenever the need strikes.
- Facts, details, and symptoms of addictions. Plus types of addictions, more recovery tips, and an idea of a recovery toolbox kit.
- Finally, a few safety tips for the use of Aromatherapy oils.
Best Essential Oils for Addiction (Pros, Cons & Studies)
Nobody starts with the thought of becoming addicted. It happens, however, quite fast along the road.
Everybody tries to do something about various situations in life. That’s why, pills and drugs, foods, and certain activities can make people feel good.
People are all different. Each of us needs different things, so we become addicted to all sorts of things. From the thrill of shopping and the taste of food to drugs and alcohol.
Any way you put it, addictions are not healthy habits. Not only are they expensive, but they can ruin lives and even lead to death.
Wanting to quit your addiction is probably the easiest part. In some addictions (drugs, alcohol, cigarettes), the will to do it is usually not enough.
Fortunately, it is not impossible to quit. So many others have done it and still do it successfully. You too can become one of those success stories. Here’s a look at how Aromatherapy could help you on your journey to recovery.
How Stuff Works: Addiction and Aromatherapy
There are many reasons for which some substances are highly addictive. But what exactly is an addiction? The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes addiction as:
“A chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.”
How does addiction happen? Until you get there, there’s an entire process that takes place. It all begins with the need to feel in a certain way.
When you feel happy, content, courageous, etc. your brain releases certain chemicals. These chemicals – dopamine and endorphins – are in fact neurotransmitters.
Certain substances (natural or synthetic) can induce euphoria and happiness by producing artificial neurotransmitters. Eating and sugar can induce these feelings too.
Sports or activities with high risks can also make people high and euphoric. These are strong emotions that make us all want to experience them again and again.
Chronic pain is another reason for which people start to take substances. But soon, they become ineffective and the body needs more and more to feel better again. And so, the vicious circle of addiction begins.
The body also stops producing those neurotransmitters on its own. This makes it even harder for people to feel good naturally.
Other addictions don’t change the body or brain chemistry like drugs do. Instead, they flood the brain with adrenaline, which is also a kind of high.
This usually comes from doing dangerous or life-threatening things/sports. If they’re not contained, they can also lead to severe injury or even death.
Addiction treatments are not a cure but addictions can be treated. The best treatment, however, implies a combination of more therapies.
Aromatherapy is a natural way to support and help people in recovering from addictions. People may respond to all kinds of therapies.
What works for someone, may not work for another. Thus, it definitely doesn’t hurt to give Aromatherapy a try.
How can essential oils for addiction help?
Essential oils are active, volatile substances. They are extracted from fresh or dried plants.
These oils represent the immune or survival system of the plant. High-quality, pure aromatic oils are steam distilled or CO2 extracted.
Each essence has a unique chemical composition. This composition is given by several factors:
- The geographical area.
- Time of harvest.
- Method of processing.
- Method of extraction.
- Tools used.
- Storage and delivery.
All these can influence the profile and therapeutic effects of an essential oil. Some oils are very strong antibacterials. Others can sedate and calm down the nervous system. Other essences can relieve pain more effectively than others, etc.
Essential oils work in two ways:
- By inhalation. This is the fastest way of getting oil molecules inside the body. They travel through the nose to the limbic system. That’s where these molecules send signals to the brain. They affect the brain into releasing neurotransmitters. This is why scents trigger memories so fast.
- Through the skin (absorption). This method absorbs a lesser amount of oils. Part of the oil evaporates into the air and another part oxidizes in the tissue. However, it is a very effective way of enjoying the benefits of essential oils for addiction. It is so because it acts directly on the affected area. You can apply a blend right on the temples or the area that aches, and get the relief you need safely.
Essential oils can help with addiction recovery and withdrawal because they are:
- Anti-inflammatory. This effect helps to reduce swelling and inflammation and make the area less painful.
- Analgesic (pain-relievers). Most analgesic oils can stop the pain receptors from sending pain messages to the brain. This decreases the level of pain felt in certain areas.
- Stimulant. They can increase the production of white blood cells. These cells are part of the immune system which they can strengthen. Some can also stimulate the production of dopamine, which helps with the mood.
- Anti-nausea. During withdrawal, one may feel nauseated. Inhaling a bit of Lemon oil, for example, can take away that symptom.
- Anti-anxiety, stress, and depression. Some essential oils have shown great potential in lab studies. They were able to calm down the nervous system, reduce the heart rate, and blood pressure. This ability of theirs is useful in improving the quality of sleep.
- Antispasmodic. This helps the muscles relax and prevents spasms or cramps. In turn, it also leads to muscle tension relief.
- Energizing. Some essences can increase your level of focus and concentration. They can improve short-term memory and increase your energy.
Aromatherapy oils can help you fill that void in the first days or weeks of withdrawal symptoms. You may choose an essential oil for your addiction depending on:
- Your overall mood and needs.
- Symptoms of withdrawal.
- Type of addiction.
- Health condition.
- Other treatments (medicines).
As you can see, there are quite a few benefits in using essential oils for addiction recovery. I’ve chosen to talk about 3 of them, based on the research I found.
However, this does not mean that others are not good at soothing withdrawal symptoms. Read through the pros and cons before deciding on buying them.
1) Rosemary Essential Oil
Botanical name: Rosmarinus officinalis (ct. cineole).
- A clinical trial revealed some interesting facts. For instance, powdered dried leaves of rosemary can decrease withdrawal symptoms. It decreased the bone pain, perspiration (sweating), and insomnia. Researchers concluded that Rosemary can be a great addition to the treatment of addiction. Rosemary essential oil could be especially helpful in dealing with opiate addiction. This means that it may help with all other opioid treatments.
- The oil is antispasmodic, which reduces muscle cramps caused by withdrawal symptoms.
- Rosemary essential oil can improve short-term memory, enough to help you concentrate better.
- The oil is also a great stimulant. It can strengthen the body and increase your energy levels.
- Avoid using Rosemary essential oil for addiction if you also have asthma.
- Consult with a doctor if you also suffer from seizures or epilepsy.
- Long periods of use and large amounts can lead to liver toxicity.
- The oil has cortisone-like effects. This makes it dangerous to use with hormone-dependent treatments.
Why I like it:
Rosemary is among the best essential oils for opiate addiction and withdrawal. It’s very easy and refreshing to use, and it can also help you breathe better. You can diffuse Rosemary oil to prevent viral infections or stimulate hair growth.
2) Oregano Essential Oil
Botanical name: Origanum vulgare (or compactum).
- Oregano essential oil is very high in carvacrol. This substance is highly antibacterial and antibiotic.
- A study on mice found that the oil of Oregano was able to increase the dopamine levels in the brain. The prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus were flooded with dopamine. This is extremely encouraging when it comes to filling the void of addiction recovery.
- Carvacrol, thus Oregano oil, is a brain-active molecule that works best in low doses. The oil can affect the activity of neurons, producing beneficial changes in the brain and body.
- It is a stimulant oil that can strengthen the immune system and the production of dopamine.
- Oregano essential oil can trigger seizures. Avoid using it if you suffer from seizures, asthma, and epilepsy.
- This oil has cortisone-like effects and can interact with hormonal treatments.
- Large amounts used for long periods of time can be toxic to the liver.
Why I like it:
Oregano is among the best essential oils for addiction treatment. It is also a very strong antibacterial that can prevent infections. You can use it to improve tonus and digestion and protect from viruses and bacteria.
3) Lavender Essential Oil
Botanical name: Lavandula angustifolia.
- Lavender is one of those essential oils that can alter your behavior. It has been proven to have a strong impact on the nervous system and the olfactory bulb.
- The oil is also a good stimulant as it can increase the production of dopamine.
- The oil is great at soothing muscle cramps and helping you sleep. It’s an excellent sedative and can also lower the blood pressure.
- Lavender can be used as an essential oil for addiction recovery. On top of the benefits I just mentioned, it can also numb (anesthetize) certain skin areas.
- It is also a great anti-anxiety essential oil. As you can imagine, this is very useful in the treatment of an addiction.
- Avoid using Lavender essential oil for addiction treatment if you have heart problems.
- Check with your doctor first, if you have asthma or epilepsy.
- Do not confuse true lavender with other lavender species. Check their botanical names before buying.
Why I like it:
Lavender is not only soothing, but it is also a good mood changer. It can help you sleep, relax, and relieve stress and anxiety. The oil is excellent for skin care too. It can help you get rid of scars, acne, and improve the aspect of wrinkles.
(Short guide) Essential oils for different types of addiction
Because the three oils I mentioned aren’t the only ones used, here are a few more. These lists should help you start your research or complementary treatment. This may lead to a faster recovery.
Essential oils for opiate addiction and withdrawal:
- Rosemary (ct. verbenone)
- Green Mandarin
- Sweet Orange
- Lemon Verbena
- Black Pepper
- Clove bud
- Ylang Ylang
Essential oils for alcohol addiction:
- Lemon Verbena
- Black Pepper
- Clove bud
Essential oils for drug addiction and cravings:
- Black Pepper
- Clove bud
- Ylang Ylang
Essential oils for sugar and food addiction:
- Lemon Verbena
Essential oils for caffeine addiction:
Essential oils for gambling addiction:
If you’re looking for essential oils for quitting smoking, I have an entire article about them. Click on the link, and check that article and its tips out.
Essential oils don’t represent a cure for your addiction, because there is none. They can only make it easier for you to control your emotions, cravings, and mood.
How to Use Essential Oils for Addiction
Aromatic oils are very concentrated substances. This means they should never be applied to the skin undiluted. Or used alone for diffusion if they’re too powerful or irritating.
I’ve told you about the two action mechanisms of the oils. For each, there is a specific way of use and tools to help you reap their benefits.
- Skin application – Mix 3 to 15 drops of essential oils for addiction recovery into an ounce of carrier oil. Shake the blend and apply on key points. Use small to moderate amounts and massage the blend until it’s fully absorbed. You should always start with the lowest dose and increase it gradually.
- Air diffusion/inhalation – Use high-quality essential oil diffusers. They’ll disperse the oil molecules into large or small spaces. Use 3 – 10 drops, depending on space, per each diffusion. Each session should not last more than 20 – 30 minutes. You can repeat every 2+ hours. Always keep the room/house well-ventilated to avoid air saturation. Saturation can lead to headaches and nausea, among others.
Read more about a proper and healthy Aromatherapy diffusion:
- How Does an Essential Oil Diffuser Work? What You Need to Know
- How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser (A Beginner’s Guide and FAQ)
You can also add your favorite oils to bath products or to the bathwater itself. Just make sure you dissolve the oils first. You can use shower gels or some salt, milk or honey.
Steam inhalation may also help with certain withdrawal symptoms (a headache, stuffy nose, etc.).
Essential Oil Recipes that Help with Addiction
All that’s left now is to start practicing. I’ve put up a few essential oil recipes for addiction treatment. Pick the one you like, considering the aromas you can stand.
Some people are just sensitive to some fragrances. In that case, avoid them at all costs. They can make you feel worse, instead of helping you.
Also, you should keep it simple and use up to 5 ingredients in a blend. Choose them carefully to cover all or most of your withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal Muscle Pain and Cramps Recipe
- Rosemary essential oil: 5 drops
- Lavender essential oil: 5 drops
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 5 drops
- Carrier oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
You can use whatever carrier oil you have on hand. It can be Olive, Macadamia, Sweet Almond, Jojoba, etc. The scent of this blend may not be the most elegant, but each oil has its benefits. They’re great antispasmodics and analgesics.
Withdrawal Attention & Focus Problems (Diffuser Recipe)
- Rosemary essential oil: 15 drops
- Black Spruce essential oil: 10 drops
- Lemon essential oil: 15 drops
- Lime essential oil: 10 drops
Mix all these oils together and keep them stored in a dark glass bottle. Use a few drops each time you turn the diffuser on. Inhale deeply and try to relax for a few minutes. The oils will help you focus a bit better on the task at hand.
Withdrawal Insomnia and Anxiety Aromatherapy Recipe
- Lavender essential oil: 2 drops
- Sweet Orange essential oil: 3 drops
- Angelica essential oil: 1 drop
- Carrier oil
- 10ml roll-on bottle
Add the essential oils into the small roll-on bottle. Complete with the carrier oil. Use a carrier with a smell as neutral as possible. Some of the best are Jojoba and Macadamia oils.
Use small amounts on the temples and back of the hands, half an hour before going to bed. These are all good essential oils for addiction recovery and withdrawal.
Addiction Facts, Symptoms, Recovery Tips & Toolbox
People without serious addictions often believe that the others’ problem is willpower. But things are not so simple anymore. Once addicted to a substance, biological changes happen.
These changes affect the functions of the brain and the body. This makes it very hard to quit the addiction/habit.
It is thought that half of the risk for addiction is given by genes. So, some people are more prone to becoming addicted to substance use, alcohol, etc. than others.
This does not mean that there’s no chance of recovery though. The same as you started, you can also quit.
Other factors that contribute to becoming addicted are the environment and education. There is also the opportunity of testing it for the first time and then giving it another try. The last part is only a matter of choice.
People that try to overcome their addictions need a lot of support and encouragement.
That is why, although there is no cure for addictions, they can still be treated. The best chances of success come from combining therapies.
There are many types of addiction:
- Legal drugs (prescribed medicines)
- Illegal substances (drugs like opium, heroin, cocaine, etc.).
- Nicotine (tobacco).
Alcohol is a drug. Thus, it produces the same damage and changes in the body as pills do. Alcohol addiction is treated like any other drug addiction.
The Side Effects and Damage Caused by Addiction:
- Shaking limbs.
- Migraines and headaches.
- Anxiety and depression.
- Anger and frustration.
- Insomnia or extreme fatigue.
- Loss of concentration and focus.
- Possible hallucinations.
- High BP.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Distorted senses.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
Your Addiction Recovery Toolbox
Essential oils make very good candidates for this metaphorical recovery toolbox. Oftentimes, it’s not enough to just stop drinking or taking drugs. There are underlying problems that need to be solved too.
They are most certainly what pushed you toward addiction in the first place. Stress, unhappiness, too much responsibility, etc. These and others may push a person to seek relief in alcohol or substance abuse.
Your addiction recovery toolbox should include:
- Healthy new habits and coping strategies. They are important to help you get through the most difficult times.
- Triggers that can send you thinking of something else, something better. This is a good moment to introduce Aromatherapy in your life.
Tips to Speed Up Addiction Recovery
Although it’s hard, it’s not impossible to get through the difficult time of withdrawal and beyond.
It’s unfortunate, but you’ll continue to feel cravings or the need for a smoke or drug for a long time after you’ve quit. To smooth things up, you could try these tips to help you cope better and recover faster.
- Create new memories with the help of essential oils for addiction treatment. You can start a new healthy habit while diffusing a certain scent. For example, meditation or house-cleaning. Scents are known to be very powerful triggers.
- Meditate daily on what used to bring you pleasure and make you happy. Try to do those things again, as if you were doing them for the first time.
- Give in to your hobbies and cultivate your talents. Learn a new language, finish your studies, learn to drive, to paint, etc. Moving into a new house or town can also take your mind off of your addiction.
- Keep supportive friends close by and avoid the others.
- Attend sober meetings.
- Exercise regularly to improve your health and create new, healthy habits.
- Save the money you would have spent for your addiction and buy yourself something nice at the end of each week. This could create new and happy anticipation moments.
- Eat healthy and nutritious foods, and hydrate really well daily.
- Rest a lot.
Essential Oils Safety Tips
While they’re natural and effective, essential oils can also be toxic. Especially if they’re used in very large amounts and on long periods of time. For the best and safest use, take the following into consideration:
- Test each new bottle of oil for allergic reactions. Since the chemical composition may vary from lot to lot, a test is always necessary. Dilute a drop of essential oil for addiction recovery with a drop of a carrier. Apply on the inside of your forearm and watch it for the rest of the day. If nothing happens, you’re good to use the oil.
- Aromatherapy oils must not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women in the first 3 months. For the following months, they should consult with their doctors.
- Some essential oils may interact with medicines. Thus, you must first talk to your doctor about it.
- Avoid diffusing or applying essential oils near pets, children or elderly people. A doctor must be consulted if you want to expose them to Aromatherapy.
- Avoid taking essential oils for addiction internally! Only a health professional can establish whether you can take them and how much.
Overcoming an addiction can be extremely hard. But even if it seems impossible, don’t give up because it’s not impossible. So many others have done it and new people do it every day. Keep your focus on and keep staying on track with tricks and help.
Use as many essential oils for addiction recovery and withdrawal as you like. But first, make sure they’re safe to use. You don’t want to make matters worse. Luckily, you’ve got plenty of choices so finding one won’t be a problem.
What do you think about Aromatherapy and the way it can help with overcoming addiction? Would you use it?