In addiction treatment, incorporating our five senses can provide a unique and useful approach to healing both the mind and body. Throughout life, many of us overlook how smells are involved in our daily lives. Whether it is the aromatic smells of your favorite foods while cooking or getting a whiff of a familiar smell that reminds you of your favorite vacation spot, your senses are directly linked to your emotional and physical health.
The use of olfactory inclusion during treatment allows not only the body to receive stress relief, but the mind as well. This article will help you better understand the importance of olfactory inclusion, and how Spero Recovery works to incorporate it into our treatment programs.
What Is Olfactory Inclusion?
Olfactory inclusion means incorporating your sense of smell with a specific form of treatment. It is usually best paired with more holistic forms of treatment such as yoga or meditation, but can also be used with any form of treatment with a professional. The use of our senses has long been a beneficial concept in addiction recovery. Your sense of smell is often strongly tied to your emotions and memory, meaning it has a psychological impact on you.
Certain smells can trigger past traumatic events or feelings, which is why using olfactory inclusion in addiction recovery can help with mental health treatment. Olfactory receptors have been found in almost every tissue of the body as well as parts of the central nervous system relevant to addiction. Essential oils can be used to support and alleviate nervous symptom disorders that can be triggered by addiction, such as anxiety, sleep issues, depression, and stress.
How Olfactory Inclusion Benefits Recovery
When we breathe in certain smells, it triggers the part of our brain that is linked to emotions and memories. In recovery, certain smells such as lavender can be used to trigger that same part of the brain but instead causes the body to relax and be calm. This can greatly help ease panic attacks from escalating and calm other symptoms from co-occurring mental disorders.
Generalized anxiety is one of the most common co-occurring disorders with substance use disorder (SUD). Anxiety can affect the mind and body in many ways, such as causing physical pain or triggering overwhelming fears and thoughts. Some people even experience panic attacks, which can bring on:
- Racing heart
- Chest pains
- Sense of terror
These symptoms are very uncomfortable and can be so severe that they are mistaken for having a heart attack or other physical issues. Incorporating the use of smell in treatment can help relieve symptoms of anxiety.
Depression is one of the most common mood disorders affecting much of the population. It is especially common in people, specifically women, who also have SUD. Aromatherapy has been thought to be beneficial in treating depression because it helps improve mood and relieve stress. It is best used when paired with another form of effective treatment, such as talk therapy, medications, or other clinical approaches. Other forms of treatment that have been proven to work alongside aromatherapy in treating depression are holistic approaches like yoga and meditation.
Trauma and PTSD
Olfactory inclusion is highly beneficial for women with trauma. For women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), certain smells or odors associated with past traumatic events can trigger symptoms of PTSD. In situations where specific smells were present during the event of the trauma, symptoms of olfactory hallucinations can occur. PTSD can also cause insomnia, anxiety or heightened fear, physical pain, and depression. Certain blends of essential oils, such as lavender, help with sleep, while chamomile can help with anxiety. With the use of other treatments, essential oils can provide important relief when treating PTSD symptoms.
At Spero Recovery, we use a holistic and community-based approach to our treatment programs. While our beautiful location in Colorado offers our patients the ability to connect with the natural environment around them, we also use other holistic methods of healing. While battling an addiction, many symptoms of underlying mental disorders can go unnoticed due to the severity of the addiction and those symptoms can blend together. Hard drugs also can cause stress on both the mind and the body, which can later become apparent after the withdrawal process. That is why during our treatment process, we work to provide recovery options that heal both the mind and body.
We offer many holistic options that incorporate the use of senses into the healing process. One specific class we incorporate into our residential schedule is called Herbs in Recovery. During this class, we teach our patients about different herbs that can be used to aid in supporting mental and physical health and experience a guided tea ceremony. Other classes, such as restorative yoga and creative expression, use a tactile experience to help our patients work through their healing process.
Olfactory inclusion can be very beneficial in addiction recovery when paired with the right treatments. Incorporating your sense of smell into your healing process can help ease anxiety, depression, and triggers of trauma. Spero Recovery strives to incorporate the use of all of our senses as a way to bring the most beneficial treatment experience. Not only do we offer the opportunity to connect with nature due to our serene Colorado location, but we offer olfactory inclusion through our holistic meditation program. Our treatment center specializes in treating women in need of addiction and mental health recovery through a nonjudgmental and safe approach. Spero Recovery wants to be the safe haven that aids you through your addiction recovery. Give us a call at (303) 351-7888 to learn more about our treatment programs and how they can benefit you or a loved one.