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Red Light Therapy For Addiction Recovery

Posted by arizonarecovery on July 22, 2020

Red light therapy (RLT) is one of a kind therapeutic process that can be used to treat various health conditions. In the treatment’s 40+ years of history, it has gained immense popularity for the ease of using and with no significant side effects. People with skin issues, joint pain, etc., can benefit from this therapy. There are quality red light-emitting devices that can be purchased to be used at home. Or you can choose to visit a center to receive proper red light therapy. Either way, it is an ease-to-undergo treatment process.

Red light therapy is also known as low-level laser therapy, low-power laser therapy, and photobiomodulation. There are not many technicalities involved in this therapy, though. It works on the basic principle of cellular function. Each cell has one or many mitochondria which significantly contribute to the cellular functions. These functions are responsible for muscle recovery and cellular growth.

When a particular area of the body is exposed to red light, the energy is absorbed by the mitochondria to fuel the mitochondrial function. This enhances cellular activity and improves growth at the cellular level. Muscle recovery and damaged tissue repair are achieved quickly with significant improvement in many body functions. And all this just by exposing the skin to a fixed wavelength of light.

Is Red Light Therapy Useful In Addiction Recovery?

RLT is the most growing therapy when it comes to inflammation, pain, arthritis, skin problems, and other similar issues. However, there has been evidence of this treatment process being helpful in addiction recovery as well. How? One of the prominent parts of the addiction recovery phase is dealing with the mental stress and withdrawal symptoms. This sometimes leads to other mental health conditions such as dementia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and clinical depression.

Many therapists believe that red light therapy can be used to treat these mental illnesses. However, research is still ongoing and there isn’t much evidence to fully support this claim as of now. But, the very few proofs that we do have to provide a good chance of this therapy being useful in the recovery process. Although there are people with mental illnesses who shouldn’t use light therapy.

For example, people with bipolar disorder have a strong chance of experiencing mania when they are exposed to light during RLT. The stimulation may trigger the manic episode which becomes hard to control once it starts. Therefore, it is highly advisable to consult a medical professional before undergoing RLT during your addiction recovery.

How Does It Help in Recovery?

The road to recovery from addiction is bumpy and feels a lot more worse in the beginning. While receiving treatment, when you are finding a way to induce a healthy routine into your daily life, there could again be such situations that may cause a relapse. Any past traumatic memory or people may trigger the emotions that can cause addictive behaviors to kick-in.

Recovery is also a battle between the individual and their mind. The absence of alcohol or drugs may impact the patient’s brain and they are more prone to developing mental health issues. Addiction therapy can surface emotions that the individual may have never thought about in years. Also, since you ate trying to get clean, intaking medications for mental health issues might not be the best approach to follow.

So what to do?

Light therapy comes here as the best alternative. This treatment process can reduce the symptoms of depression and other mental health issues. The reason why it is best suited for people in recovery is that it is fully natural, non-chemical, and treatment with absolutely no side effects. The sessions are mentally soothing and help the individual overcome negative emotions, making them feel better about themselves. Establishing light therapy as a part of their routine may help them kick-start their day peacefully and with a fresh mind.

Addiction damages the cells, called mitochondria, that provide energy. Red light therapy may help repair these cells by fueling them with appropriate energy. This energy can cause the cells to function more efficiently and improve the healing process. For addiction, the light is focused on the wrist of the patient. The light has low energy which means there is no risk of burning or damaging the skin.

If you are undergoing therapy at a rehab facility, low-level light therapy can help make your rehab experience a lot more better and effective. During the RLT, endorphins are released in the body, making the individual feel relaxed and calm. Endorphins can also reduce dependence, and make withdrawal symptoms go fairly quickly.

Physical Health During Recovery Using RLT

Our physical and mental health are connected and any improvement in either one has a significant positive impact on the other. As the RLT causes the cellular function to speed up, enhancing certain body functions, it can also help improve fitness levels, mood, sleeping patterns, reduce stress due to withdrawal, and increase energy.

For the addicts who have abused a substance or alcohol for long now, their immune system may have weakened considering the longstanding addiction. Less immunity increases your vulnerability to various diseases. Improved cellular function directly impacts the immune system, making it stronger than before.

Due to the wavelength of light used in RLT, it can penetrate 8-10 millimeters into the skin. This impacts not only the area the light is focused on but also the surrounding parts. For example, when the wrist is exposed to a red light, the surrounding blood vessels, lymph, hair follicles, tissues, etc., are also covered. This causes the blood vessels to expand, reducing the swelling throughout the body. RLT can also save patients with complications relates to addiction such as cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, liver diseases, and bowel disorders.

These changes can affect the mental condition of the individual, strengthening their fight against depression and anxiety.


Addiction is common these days. And the treatment involved in addiction recovery may not always suit every individual out there. For many people who have been abusing a substance for a long time now, the usual treatment methods to stop substance abuse may not work. This clubbed with the positive results of red light therapy, has made it an important consideration during recovery. However, it should also be noted that RLT alone cannot be used to treat addiction. So, it is important to include it in parallel to the ongoing treatment or therapy.

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