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Reiki Therapy For Addiction

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 24, 2019

Reiki therapy is an alternative treatment method that is sometimes used to aid in the treatment of substance use disorders. While there is no evidence to show the effectiveness of reiki therapy for addiction, some people strongly believe in its healing powers. It is not one of the services regularly offered by our facilities.

What Is Reiki Therapy?

Reiki therapy is a Japanese method of relaxation and stress reduction that may also be used to promote healing. In scientific circles, reiki therapy is considered a form of alternative medicine because it has less evidence to support it.

Administered by a trained practitioner, Reiki therapy involves laying hands on or above a person to transfer the flow of life force energy and create a healing response.

Practitioners believe that if a person’s life force energy is low, then they’re more likely to feel depressed or stressed out. If the life force energy is high, the person is more likely to be healthy, feel happy, and live a more stress-free life.

According to practitioners, Reiki is the spiritual guidance of life force energy, and a person in treatment is likely to feel the flow of energy and the universal forces around them.

Reiki treatment allows a person to tap into all elements of being, including mind, body, emotion, and spirit. It’s a safe practice and includes little to no dangers for an individual. Practitioners call it a simple, natural, and spiritual way for healing and self-improvement that is accessible for every person willing to try.

While every practitioner is different, and many of the specifics of Reiki therapy may differ, there are likely consistencies between most Reiki therapy sessions.

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What To Expect During a Reiki Therapy Session

There is no definitive set of protocol or guidelines for a Reiki therapy session, and no two sessions may be alike.

However, there are a few consistencies of what to expect during a Reiki therapy session, including the session will likely take place in a quiet setting.

A quiet setting allows both the practitioner and patient to tap into their life force energies. Some practitioners may play soft music, other peaceful ambient sounds, or keep the session silent to set the mood.

The session length varies, but they may last between 20 and 90 minutes, or in most cases, somewhere in between.

There may be an interview, or meeting, between the practitioner and the person receiving treatment so the practitioner can better understand the specific needs of the individual.

The patient will likely be in comfortable clothes, and will be either sitting in a chair or lying flat on a treatment table. Both options are likely to ensure maximum comfortability for the patient.

Then, the practitioner will likely begin Reiki therapy by lightly touching the patient’s head, face, and torso with their hands. All touching will be non-invasive, or perfectly comfortable for the patient.

The practitioner may also place their hands on other parts of the body if it’s useful for the patient, or hold their hands just above the patient if desirable.

How a person experiences a Reiki therapy session is subjective, or depends on person to person. For a better session, a person should do the following before it starts:

  • Communicate your specific needs before the session begins.
  • If you’re uneasy about being touched, request the practitioner show you where they will place their hands so you know what to expect.
  • Request or bring music you enjoy, or know relaxes you, or request silence if it’s your preference.
  • Use the restroom before the session so you can focus on the therapy and lay or sit comfortably.

Whether Reiki therapy for addiction is successful depends on a variety of factors as it isn’t a traditional evidence-based approach. However, practitioners or other healing institutions believe there are several health benefits that come from the practice of Reiki.

The Potential Health Benefits Of Reiki Therapy

For people who believe and practice Reiki, there could be many possible benefits for giving and receiving life’s energy.

Some practitioners claim the physical benefits of Reiki therapy range from increasing general healing time to treating chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

There are also some claims that Reikie can support pregnant women during and after birth, lessen arthritis pain, and reduce nausea.

For the mental benefits of Reiki, some practitioners believe a person will have a calmer mind, show enhanced creativity and improved memory, have increased personal awareness, and experience relief from emotional upheaval, including anxiety and depression.

Reiki practitioners also claim there can be further emotional and spiritual benefits for people in Reiki therapy. Emotionally, Reiki may increase calmness in the mind, help with insomnia and confidence, and even ease the pain of addiction.

Spiritual benefits may include leading a more purposeful life, feeling more connected with oneself and others in the universe, and establishing a life filled with peace and enlightenment.

Not a scientifically-based treatment method, the benefits of Reiki therapy depend on the individual receiving treatment, and whether they believe this healing process can be effective.

Because of how people view addiction and recovery, alternative medicine may have some positive effects for those suffering from substance use disorders, and Reiki therapy for addiction may be a beneficial practice for those who believe.

Alternative Medicine And Addiction

While addiction is a chronic brain disease that changes how a person thinks and behaves, the effective treatment for addiction relies heavily on the specific needs and preferences of the individual.

Alternative medicines, like Reiki therapy, for addiction has been successful for some individuals but is likely only effective when it meets the unique needs and beliefs of the person and is combined with evidence-based practices.

How a person perceives addiction and recovery may affect the success of alternative medicine to treat addiction.

Research has found that individuals with substance use disorders define addiction as:

  • feeling out of control
  • engaging in unhealthy behavior
  • involving trauma and pain
  • lying to others and oneself
  • underlying feelings of loneliness and despair

Individuals describe recovery as:

  • being honest with oneself and others
  • being independent
  • feeling happy
  • gaining control over one’s life

People express that although addiction is a daily struggle, they feel they’re the ones in control of their lives, not their substance of abuse.

Because people often associate addiction with feelings of pain, dishonesty, and despair, and see recovery as being happy, independent, and honest, alternative medicines are likely to have positive effects for people willing to believe in themselves and the approach of treatment during the recovery process.

Many approaches to recovery, including alternative medicines like Reiki therapy, aim to promote healthy feelings of well-being, meditation, and reflective thinking.

But, does Reiki therapy really work for addiction?

Reiki Therapy For Addiction: Does It Work?

In the scientific community, Reiki therapy is considered a complementary health approach for addiction and other health conditions. There is no scientific evidence to suggest the life force energy that is shared and transmitted from practitioner to patient actually exists.

Science warns that Reiki therapy for addiction should not replace the standard, or more medically-based treatments for recovery or other health issues.

However, as a complementary approach, or used alongside other treatments, Reiki therapy for addiction may help an individual with some aspects of recovery.

Some people undergoing this method claim to have their energy changed, and no longer feel they have a desire to use or abuse any substances. They say they have experienced a complete lifestyle change brought about by the change in their energy.

Boost Energy

Reiki therapy may produce similar results for people who believe in energy transference and a universal inter-connectedness between all people and things.

Lower Stress

This may require a daily practice of Reiki therapy so a person can lower their stress levels and routinely connect with mind, body, and spirit. Once a person feels centered, in control, and full of energy, they’re more likely to be engaged in recovery and focus on healing.

Help With Pain

There have also been reports by some practitioners that Reiki therapy may help with the pain and discomfort of withdrawal. Reiki therapy may also speed up the recovery process when it’s used alongside other proven methods of addiction treatment.

Reiki Therapy May Help With Symptoms Of Withdrawal

Practitioners of Reiki therapy claim Reiki can be effective for people suffering through withdrawal symptoms. Because of the calming effects of Reiki, people engaged in Reiki therapy may experience some relief from the physical symptoms of withdrawal.

Early on in the recovery process, people suffering from addiction are likely to have trust issues, and may be skeptical of a treatment involving alternative medicine.

However, Reiki therapy can help calm a person down during their likely agitated state caused by withdrawal.

One Reiki practitioner can attest to this from working at an alcohol and drug addiction treatment center for some time. She claims that during her Reiki sessions, people became calmer and calmer as the therapy went on, and noticed a significant reduction in their shaking.

According to this practitioner, the shakes eventually stopped and did not return.

It’s also possible that receiving Reiki therapy during withdrawal may help a person feel safe, calm, and at peace. Once a person’s body and mind gets to a point of safety and calm, they’re likely to release the panic and trauma that set in during withdrawal.

However, there is no evidence to back up claims that Reiki therapy actually relieves discomfort during withdrawal. The only evidence that supports Reiki therapy as effective for addiction is based on individual accounts of addiction and recovery.

The best course of action is likely to involve Reiki therapy with other more traditional, and effective, measures of addiction treatment.

Effective Treatment And Reiki Therapy For Addiction

As a complementary technique, Reiki therapy for addiction may be an effective tool to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and focus a person’s mind on healing during the recovery process. Reiki therapy may also help a person remain calm during the early and stressful stages of addiction treatment.

The success of addiction treatment is dependent on the willingness of the individual to get clean, change their lifestyle, and acknowledge their past, and likely destructive, behavior.

The effectiveness of any substance abuse treatment relies on the commitment of the individual to heal and grow into a balanced life.

More likely than not, effective treatment for addiction will encompass a wide range of methods and therapies, and, while there is little scientific evidence to back it up, Reiki therapy may be an effective tool for some.

Call now and speak to a professional that can help find you or your loved one Reiki therapy, or other alternative approaches, for addiction treatment.

SAMHSA - Pathways to Healing and Recovery

University of Minnesota - Taking Charge of Your Health and Well-Being: What Can I Expect in a Typical Reiki Session?

Taproot Healing Institute - Reiki Benefits - What is Reiki? - Reiki for the recovering alcoholic and addict

International Journal of Clinical Practice - Effects of Reiki in Clinical Practice

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