Reiki for addiction

What is Reiki and can it help your recovery from drug or alcohol addiction? We review here and invite your questions at the end.

minute read

Stress is at the root of addiction

Alcoholism and drug addiction exist in almost all known cultures. The common underlying denominators are anxiety, depression, and stress. Whether this translates to a spiritual malady or simply a form of mental illness (or both), the solution requires breaking the cycle of addiction and finding tools to deal with anxiety, depression, and stress that don’t involve self-medicating.

Treatment, whether psychologically based, religious, or 12-step, is about reorienting the addict’s thinking and behavior such that drugs and alcohol are no longer perceived as viable solutions to negative feelings, and challenges don’t become overwhelming. New ways of experiencing and responding to life problems are explored; old habits and beliefs, patterns of negativity, and feelings of anger, hopelessness, and futility are examined and discarded.

There are useful adjuncts to treatment as well. These include exercise, good nutrition habits, meditation, yoga, and other disciplines. Reiki therapy is a modality that specifically addresses stress reduction. If we view depression and anxiety as responses to stress (unless they are metabolic, therefore clinical and possibly in need of medication), then alleviating stress will help in all three areas.

What is Reiki Therapy?

What is Reiki therapy? The word itself—Reiki—is actually a combination of two Japanese words. The first part, “Rei,” literally translates into “God’s Wisdom,” and “Ki” simply means “life-force energy.” So, Reiki therapy means “spiritually guided life-force energy.”

This concept certainly is in harmony with the precepts of recovery from addiction. The theory behind Reiki is that many human maladies are caused by, or at least aggravated by, stress, and that the Reiki method of promoting the life-force energy already inherent in and flowing through the body is the optimum way to bring about healing. Clearing of energy blockages, detoxification, and promotion of a relaxed state of heightened awareness are brought about through the Reiki process.

Reiki’s introduction to the West

Reiki has its roots in ancient Tibetan healing practices, but was introduced to the West in 1937 by a Japanese woman, Mrs. Hawayo Takata, in 1937. Reiki does not represent itself as a religion, but claims to be spiritual in nature. It is not dogma-based, and belief is not required to benefit from it. The founder of modern Reiki therapy, Mikao Usui, recommended adoption of a set of life-affirming principles, knowing that living according to ethical ideals is the optimal way to minimize the generating of new stress. He wrote

At least for today:

Do not be angry,

Do not worry,

Be grateful,

Work with diligence,

Be kind to people.

Every morning and evening, join your hands in meditation and pray with your heart.

Again, this emphasis on principles and living harmoniously with others dovetails neatly with the basic tenets of recovery.

What happens during a Reiki session?

The process itself involves a series of hand motions by the practitioner in relation to the patient’s meridian energy lines and chakras. The recipient lies down, usually on a massage table, and is encouraged to relax. The practitioner may actually touch the recipient, or may simply hover with the palms over various parts of the body. Initially, an exploratory scan may be performed to identify areas that require attention.

Reiki and addiction recovery questions

Still have questions about Reiki for addiction? Please leave them in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

About the author
Suzi Martel, founder of In Suzi's Words, is a freelance lifestyle writer who has a passion for writing informative copy on a variety of topics including addiction treatment and drug rehab.


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    1. Hi Nancy. Call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best rehab for you.

  1. Hi

    I have an addiction and im looking to get rid of the dam thing through spiritual healing, no modern medicine but have no idea where to begin…. my situation is unique and its not as simple as heading to a program. I truly believe i CAN do this without modernmll mediconr. I just don’t know how

    1. Hi Christina. Call the helpline you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find a rehab program for you.

  2. Alcohlic tried everything from aa religion self will all fails. For some reason this came ro mind. Looking for serious change. Live in vernon ct. Will travel to someone

    1. Hi Paul. Call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820 to find a high-quality alcohol addiction treatment program. This helpline is accessible 24/7 and gives you the chance to speak with trusted treatment consultants who can help you find an alcohol recovery program suited to your individual needs.

  3. I have been asked by a local treatment center to introduce Reiki to individuals with opiate addiction and co-occuring mental health disorders. Can you share any suggestions with me about how I can provide Reiki to them as a group that would be time efficient yet effective. I’m not sure how many individuals are in each group session, but there’s only one of me and limited time. Is there any benefit in allowing them to assist me while I work on each of them? I’ve been to several Reiki circles where Reiki practitioners and anyone who shows up for the circle, whether they know anything about Reiki or not, participate in the Circle. I’m not sure why this is done, or any reason why not to have everyone participate as they can. Any thoughts or advice about this?

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