Floating can help with a variety of physical and mental conditions from chronic pain and inflammation to stress and anxiety. Most people, however, don’t realize that the effects of floating have even greater potential for those struggling with addiction. A 2016 survey found that 19.9 million Americans needed substance use treatment. We’ve been so fortunate to witness our guests release their reliance on substances like alcohol and cigarettes during their floating practice.*
Many studies have been conducted on the effects of floating on substance addiction, specifically on alcohol abuse and smoking cessation. According to one study on REST (restricted environmental stimulation therapy), which expanded upon earlier REST findings,
“REST has generated smoking abstinence rates of 53% in a one year follow up at the University of British Columbia (Best & Suedfeld, 1982), 47% abstinence at 19 months follow up at Harvard Medical School (A. Barabasz, Baer, Sheehan & M. Barabasz, 1985, 1986), and 87% abstinence at one year follow up in a clinical setting (Tikalsky, 1984). Suedfeld (1987) recently reported the scientific literature now shows 11 replications of the smoking abstinence data using chamber REST interventions…The results, in virtually all cases, were positive enough that further investigation seems warranted (Suedfeld, 1980). The research on smoking has clear implications for the treatment of alcohol abuse (Suedfeld, 1980).”
The impact of floatation therapy on addiction may even be more dramatic when sessions are used as a meditation aid. Another study conducted on the effects of mindfulness meditation on likeliness to relapse found that participants who took an eight-week meditation course were more successful at abstaining from alcohol.
“Their severity of depression, anxiety, stress and craving, documented relapse triggers, decreased, and the degree of mindfulness increased. The meditation course was rated as a “very important” and “useful relapse prevention tool;” participants reported being “very likely” to continue meditating.”
Floating helps recovery from addiction in two simple ways: First, it increases the release of good hormones such as dopamine, and it also decreases the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Research shows that addiction is the result of attempting to mask conscious or unconscious pain. We know that floating helps reduce all types of pain by relaxing the mind, releasing muscle tension and flooding the body with feel-good hormones. Therefore, eliminating pain will naturally alleviate the urge to self-harm.
*Please note that a float practice should not replace healthcare, but is meant to work as a complement to your regular medical program. If you need help with substance abuse, please consider calling SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).