The Sauna and Addiction Recovery

The Sauna and Addiction Recovery

While it is true that sweating helps eliminate alcohol from the body, forcing yourself to sweat by sitting in a sauna is not the safest method for ridding your body of alcohol. Nor is it a safe way to self-detox if you are trying to stop abusing drugs or alcohol.

Both steam and infrared sauna increase skin temperature by as much as 30 degrees in minutes. The average amount of sweat a person releases in a 20-minute sauna session is about a pint. Heart rate doubles as the body attempts to maintain homeostasis under extreme heat stress. The circulatory system shunts blood flow away from the internal organs to the skin to try and cool the body. Blood pressure may rise or fall depending on a person’s existing health.

Sweating removes only about 10 percent of alcohol from the body. The liver and kidneys metabolize and eliminate the remaining 90 percent of alcohol in the body. The liver is also primarily responsible for removing methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine from the bloodstream and urine, which can take at least two or three days.

Don’t Rely on a Sauna to Detox from Addictive Substances

If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol and think a couple of sauna sessions will detox your body, think again. In most cases, substance abusers are in poor health, have not seen a doctor in years, and may suffer from unknown diseases. Sitting in a sauna for 10 minutes may cause sudden and severe dehydration, shock, heart arrhythmia, and other acute medical conditions.

Medical detoxification is the safest and most effective method endorsed by all physicians specializing in addiction. Supervised by doctors, nurses, and counselors, medical detox takes place in a hospital-like setting where the person is monitored 24/7 and given medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Crisis counseling is also available to patients undergoing the medical detox process. Following detox, most patients enter a residential or intensive outpatient treatment center.

Benefits of Using a Sauna While in Addiction Recovery

Research indicates that individuals who have already completed medical detoxification may receive psychological benefits from occasional sauna sessions. One large study found that people in addiction recovery who sat in a sauna twice a week reported better mood, increased energy levels, improved ability to think clearly, and significantly reduced cravings for alcohol or drugs. In addition, some subjects noted physical changes such as faster healing of track marks and reduced pain associated with health issues caused by addiction.

The most accepted theory for why saunas benefit people in recovery is heat-activating brain receptors responsible for releasing serotonin. Increasing low levels of serotonin in the brain has been shown to boost mood and feelings of well-being and contentment. Antidepressants prescribed to people with depression and anxiety also increase serotonin levels to alleviate their mental health issues. Saunas appear to do the same thing but to a minor degree.

Practice Safe Sauna Use to Maximize Health Benefits During Recovery

  • NEVER drink alcohol or use drugs before and after a sauna session
  • Allow yourself to cool down naturally after a sauna bath. Taking a cold shower or jumping into the pool puts stress on your circulatory system.
  • Drink several glasses of water after sauna use
  • If you have a cold or the flu, don’t get into the sauna until you feel better. You may feel unusually dizzy, weak, or sick afterward
  • After eating a full meal, wait about two hours before entering your sauna to avoid feeling queasy

If you or someone you know needs help defeating an addiction, please call Hickory Treatment Centers today.

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If you have tried to stop using alcohol or drugs on your own, you may feel that sobriety and clean living seem far away. However, with the help of caring staff members and a safe, structured environment, you can receive the guidance you need to fight cravings and regain control of your life.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our admission staff or learn more about our healing programs.