An opioid addiction can have numerous detrimental effects on a person’s health and life in general. However, by entering recovery, many of these effects can be reversed through treatment and therapy, including red light therapy. Although this practice may seem unorthodox, red light therapy offers tremendous benefits to those living with an opioid addiction.
What are Opioids?
To understand how red light therapy can help a person with an opioid addiction, one must first understand what opioids are and how they affect the human body. Opioids are a classification of drugs that are derived from opium. This natural substance can be found in poppy plants native to parts of Asia and South American; however, it can also be manufactured synthetically in a lab. Some common opioids are heroin, morphine, codeine, Oxycodone, and fentanyl.
The opium within opioids has a powerful ability to relieve pain. This is because opium can block the signals sent between the brain and body, which makes opioids useful but also incredibly addictive. By disrupting pain signals when ingested, opioids also provide their users with feelings of euphoria and numbness.
The Harms of Opioid Addiction
While opioids, like prescription opioids, can be beneficial in treating issues like chronic pain, they can also be harmful when abused. Opioids are highly addictive, and according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2019, roughly 1.6 million people had an opioid use disorder in the past year, and 10.1 million people misused prescription opioids in the past year. Addiction, in general, can change structures in the brain, rewiring it for dangerous addictive behavior. Additionally, using an opioid like heroin repeatedly can lead to a number of serious health issues, such as insomnia, liver and kidney disease, a higher likelihood of heart infections, mental disorders, hypoxia, and overdose.
Symptoms of Opioid Addiction
Individuals with an opioid use disorder cannot refrain from using opioids, and experience difficulty functioning in daily life due to opioid use. Withdrawal symptoms occur when someone is physically dependent on an opioid. Common signs of opioid addiction include:
- The inability to control use
- Weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Poor coordination
- Slurred speech
- New financial difficulties
Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments and therapies for opioid addiction available to those in the United States and abroad. One of these treatments is red light therapy.
History of Red Light Therapy
Light therapy has a longer history than many realize. It was first utilized by Danish physicist Niels Ryberg Finsen to treat individuals with skin tuberculosis. In his study, he found that increased light exposure, especially to red light, can help cells grow. Finsen’s work with light therapy was so effective at treating individuals that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Decades later, NASA began using light therapy in space to help grow plant life and keep their astronauts healthy.
How Red Light Therapy Works
No matter the color, all light travels in wavelengths. However, different shades and hues of light have different wavelengths. Red light, in particular, has a wavelength that allows it to more easily penetrate human skin. In doing so, the light can more easily be absorbed by skin cells and turned into energy, generating growth and increasing overall cellular function. Depending on the strength of the light, red light can penetrate our top layer of skin as well as into the deep levels of skin, called dermis. When the red light is absorbed by our cells, it can stimulate production of collagen, help repair damaged tissue, increase oxygenation, and improve circulation. Red light has also been shown to decrease inflammation and bacteria.
Red light therapy is delivered through red LED lightbulb panels, and can be administered by a small device as well as through a full-body red light bed. Red therapy light beds are an exceptional way to receive treatment, as the entire body can receive the benefits of red light therapy at once.
Full-body red light therapy beds often look similar to UV tanning beds, however there are no skin-damaging UV rays are present. An individual will be instructed to lay in the bed, often while wearing eye protection, with their skin several inches from the red lights for the determined amount of time. Duration may vary depending on a person’s physical make-up as well as well as what conditions they are being treated for, but may range from several minutes to half an hour. Treatments are safe and painless.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Opioid Addiction
Although red light therapy is not a comprehensive cure for any kind of addiction, it does offer those who use it several significant benefits, including:
Better Sleep and a Healthy Sleep Cycle
Many individuals in recovery often find trouble sleeping. Fortunately, red light therapy can help reinforce the brain’s association between waking hours and non-waking hours. In doing so, many who engage in red light therapy find it easier to sleep at night, getting them better sleep and a more healthy sleep cycle.
An Increase in Overall Energy
The red light used in red light therapy sessions penetrates the skin, leading to increased cellular energy. Oftentimes, those who engage in red light therapy find their overall energy increases as their skin cell energy increases. This increase in energy can help those living with an opioid addiction maintain their commitment to their sobriety.
Another benefit of red light therapy is rejuvenated skin. By increasing function in skin cells, those who utilize red light therapy often have healthier, better looking skin, which can help an individual not only look better but feel better about themselves.
Red light therapy, unlike pain-killing drugs, doesn’t block our perception of pain but rather works at the cellular level to promote healthy cell functioning that leads to a pain-free body.
Improved Mental Health
By reinforcing a healthy sleep schedule, increasing cellular and overall energy, and rejuvenating one’s skin, many who engage in red light therapy often find that it improves their mental health. This is a tremendous benefit to anyone living with an addiction. The better mental health a person has, the more prepared and committed they are to their recovery.
Looking for Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Your Area?
Recovering from an opioid addiction is difficult. However, it can be more manageable with professional treatment like red light therapy. With multiple state-of-the-art red light therapy beds available for use, our clients are able to relax and enjoy this unique supplemental treatment while recovering from addiction.
Detox – Our on-site detox clinic accommodates and supports clients as the body sheds all residual traces of addictive substances. Clients are under medical supervision during the detox process to ensure that they remain safe and comfortable.
Addiction Treatment – During our addiction treatment program, clients will engage in introductory therapies and exercises that work to prepare them for continued, more intensive treatment outside of our facility. The goal of our addiction treatment track is to stabilize clients so that they are treatment-ready.
Mental Health Treatment – Our mental health treatment program introduces behavioral therapies rooted in self-expression and holistic exercise. Art therapy, music therapy, and yoga are just a few forms of therapy we offer at the center. Our goal is to help the client reclaim their voice and expose them to treatment within a professional facility.
Aftercare Planning – Aftercare is designed for individuals who have benefitted from our introductory addiction services and are transitioning into a more intensive addiction treatment program. Once a client is stabilized, they will be encouraged to pursue continued addiction treatment. Our experienced case managers will then work with our clients to place them in a program that addresses their specific wants and needs.
If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling and needs help, or if you’re curious about red light therapy and how it can be effective in treating opioid addiction, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call Knoxville Recovery Center and speak with an expert