(N.B.: No statement in this blog is intended as medical advice.)
As I noted in the previous blog (Aromatherapy and Addiction Recovery Part 1), addiction casts a dramatically broad net—it affects not only the person suffering from the compulsion but also the folks surrounding that person, and even society as a whole. Aromatherapy can aid addiction recovery by easing withdrawal symptoms, reducing cravings, and balancing emotional states.
It’s possible to be addicted to just about anything—a chemical substance, certain foods, an activity, or even a mindset, for example. Theologian Richard Rohr has gone so far as to say, in his book Breathing Under Water, that Western society (the whole concept of society, in fact) is addicted to itself and to its survival at any cost. Jumping off from that point, he notes that pretty much anyone can benefit from addressing addictive tendencies in him- or herself. So aromatherapy for addiction recovery can benefit all of us, by giving us peace and the ability to release fear, possessiveness, and anger.
Following are some additional essential oils that may boost your efforts in particular areas of recovery. You can use a room diffuser to create blends for yourself, or dilute with carrier oil and apply topically (please use caution and be sure to follow safety guidelines for essential oil use—some are irritants or can cause photosensitivity.)
**And remember: recovery is both incredibly hard and deeply rewarding. Be gentle to yourself, as well as to those you know who are in recovery. All of us, however addiction affects us, are fighting a difficult battle.**
Basil and Grapefruit are both excellent essential oils for general application in addiction recovery. Basil calms and uplifts, as well as offering mental and emotional clarity; it’s also known to aid sleep, which often eludes those in early recovery. The essential oil is also helpful in spiritual cleansing.
Grapefruit, like all citrus oils, brightens the outlook. It’s energizing! The essential oil may also boost self-esteem, extroversion, and optimism. Grapefruit can ease cravings for sweets, as well as potentially for alcohol (which is, after all, a form of sugar).
Cravings in general can be relieved with the use of Grapefruit, Clove, Cilantro (Coriander), Cinnamon, and Peppermint essential oils.
Suffering from the hell that is withdrawal from a drug or alcohol? Be sure to seek medical help, as both alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal can be dangerous or even fatal without support. Opiate withdrawal, while dreadful, is generally less inherently dangerous but still often requires medical attention. That said, the following oils may ease withdrawal symptoms both physical and emotional, especially after the acute phase has passed: Marjoram, Sandalwood, Orange, Grapefruit, Lavender, and other citrus.
Here is a quick (non-inclusive) list of addiction types and some of the essential oils that may help in overcoming them:
- Alcohol: Rosemary, Basil, Frankincense, and Chamomile
- Anxiety: Ylang Ylang and Lavender Essential Oils
- Caffeine: Basil and Grapefruit Essential Oils
- Eating Disorders: Grapefruit, Bergamot, and Cinnamon Essential Oils
- Food: Grapefruit and Basil Essential Oils
- Pornography: Frankincense Essential Oil
- Sex: Geranium and Sandalwood Essential Oils
- Sugar: Grapefruit Essential Oil
- Tobacco: Clove, Basil, Black Pepper Essential Oils
- Work/Exercise: Basil, Ylang Ylang, Orange, and Lavender Essential Oils
Emotions play a root role in addiction. Frequently an addiction is a form of self-medication to mask anxiety, grief, physical pain, and anger. Coming from this angle, it helps to have a sense of the emotions you’re dealing with as you recover—both the feelings that recovery is revealing for the first time and the feelings that trigger addictive behavior in the first place.
Lemon oil excels at clearing the body’s energy of negative factors; regular massage, room diffusing, or aromatherapy blends that contain lemon are favorites among aromatherapists for reducing cravings, assisting with clarity, and sweetening outlook. If sadness is an issue, or any other form of pain and suffering, Peppermint and Yarrow essential oils are helpful. Coping with anger? Cinnamon (use sparingly, as it’s potent!) can help. Eucalyptus oil and the Cedarwoods help to knit back together the damaged energy in our souls that comes from substance abuse.
Many of Tazeka’s blends can be helpful for the various challenges of addiction recovery. I mentioned a few in the previous blog, but here are a few more:
Slim Solution, featuring Grapefruit and Cedarwood, clears stuck energy and may help strengthen the will while boosting optimism.
Breathe Easy, with Eucalyptus, Spike Lavender, and Cypress, can open up energy passageways and calm you down, breathing fresh air into rigid habits.
PMS Rescue, with Geranium, Cypress, Lavender, and Chamomile, relaxes and uplifts while it comforts and helps to release negative energy.
The anxiety and sadness that addiction brings to everyone involved can be eased with the following blend. Try a few drops of this blend in a bath (add a bit of vinegar for its cleansing properties) or diffuse into the room. As usual, you can also blend up this mix of essential oils and dilute in a carrier oil for topical application on the pulse points, or for inhalation in its undiluted form. Remember: never, except in very rare circumstances, use essential oils “neat” (undiluted)!
Comfort and Release Blend
- 3 drops Lemon oil
- 3 drops Lavender oil
- 3 drops Chamomile oil
- 2 drops Cedarwood oil
- 10 ml carrier oil, such as jojoba (for topical application or bath use*)
*For a bath, add ½ cup apple cider vinegar.