Addiction is a serious subject with severe and long-lasting effects on the lives of both the person addicted and their loved ones. As such, you probably don’t think about laughter when you think of drug addiction recovery.
But laughter might be the best medicine after all. While you need more than just humor to fix your problems, you can make drug recovery and other therapeutic processes easier if you let yourself tickle your funny bone.
Belly Laughs & Your Body
When you have a good laugh, your body reacts. Your cheeks pull back to smile, your eyes crinkle. Your pectoral muscles, diaphragm, and stomach muscles contract and relax. And these spasms—repeated contractions and relaxations—soothe your muscles like a good stretch.
Aerobic workouts get you breathing hard the same way laughter does. Laughter and exercise both make you breathe more, which gets your blood flowing. Higher oxygen intake and increased circulation have all kinds of benefits, which include healthier digestion. Since laughter works the muscles around the stomach, you can actually target specific withdrawal symptoms like nausea with a good laugh.
While laughter won’t replace a healthy diet (5 calories burned per minute of laughter), every little bit helps when you pursue a holistic approach to your overall health.
Mirth & Mind
Laughter stimulates endorphin release in the brain and functions as both a natural painkiller and a way to increase happiness. Endorphins do a lot for you:
- Reduce stress
- Heighten mood
- Increase pain tolerance
- Natural high
Alcohol and other drugs release dangerous chemicals that build to unhealthy levels when abused. Because laughter releases endorphins, a good laugh reminds your body how a healthy good mood feels. With recovery patients often experiencing depression and anxiety, every good mood helps.
When we’re in trouble, our hypothalamus releases cortisol, the primary stress hormone, releasing a surge of adrenaline and putting your body into high alert. Combined, these hormones trigger our fight-or-flight response. And while the adrenaline rush kept our ancestors alive, repeated stress exposure causes more harm than good.
In fight-or-flight, your body focuses on survival and vital functions at all cost. Digestion, reproduction, and growth all go out the window until the body stabilizes. A stressful situation that lasts for weeks, months, or years builds unhealthy cortisol levels in the body, which such effects as:
- Anxiety and depression
- Cognitive and memory problems
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle tension
- Digestive issues
- Weight gain
Studies associate early recovery stages with higher cortisol levels—so if you begin your recovery and felt too stressed to continue, you have a good reason.
A good laugh decreases your cortisol levels. Laughter therapy, combined with other de-stressors like sober living homes that help you to focus on recovery.
Recovery is hard enough without physical responses to stress that might push your instincts away from sobriety.
Humor in Your Healing Process
Laughter therapy doesn’t replace traditional therapy, but it can be effective when integrated well. For instance, a support group that incorporates humor into meetings can go a long way.
Improv exercises and comedy skits can be an engaging activity to lighten the mood after an intense session. Laughter builds new social bonds that you’llassociate with fun, cathartic experiences. These connections can help you feel less isolated and make group therapy a social activity that you can look forward to.
A therapist can help you find ways to incorporate laughter into your everyday routine. Make it a part of your recovery and give your permission to enjoy a sober life again.
Drug Addiction Recovery Isn’t All Smiles
Humor and laughter therapy work best when they supplement traditional forms of therapy. It can’t replace them all on its own. If you are in recovery or want to start, consider cognitive behavioral therapy, twelve-step programs, sober living facilities, and other proven methods. Then ask about laughter therapy, especially group laughter therapy, on top of the options they provide.
Never Alone Recovery: Surprisingly Silly Yet Solidly Serious
Never Alone Recovery provides free nationwide drug rehab placement so that those in need find the programs most suited to them. We can provide placement for many types of treatment programs, whether you’re looking to heal with humor or a patient-forward traditional approach.
If you want more information about alternative forms of therapy, advice about life as you work toward sobriety, and other valuable information about drug and alcohol recovery, be sure to follow us on social media.