Reiki Treatment in Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Program

Mikao UsuI was born in 1865. After years of spiritual searching, he began practicing and teaching Reiki after 21 days of fasting and meditation on a sacred mountain in Japan. Since then, Reiki had slowly gained popularity in the west. Today, Reiki has gained acceptance as an effective complementary alternative medicine modality in various hospitals in the United States and Europe.

Many clinical studies have validated the efficacy of Reiki as a complementary healing modality in the treatment of various illnesses such as cancer, HIV/Aids, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions. Currently, there are many more pilot studies being conducted on Reiki.

Reiki as Treatment In a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center

In Australia, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center has been using Reiki in assisting their clients overcome their addictions.

The Windana Society is an organization that offers holistic care to those suffering from substance addictions. It is composed of The Windana Community Center (WCC) in Melbourne, which provides alternative therapies at affordable prices to people from low income groups. Next door to the WCC is the Drug Withdrawal and Assessment House. This is where drug users spend their first week detoxifying. After detoxification, there is a two to three-week assessment and preparation period and plans are made either for a return home, referral to other programs or more commonly, to move to the next center of Windana, the Therapeutic Community in Pakenham, Victoria.

Reiki has been successfully used by the Windana Society in its drug and alcohol rehabilitation program since 1992. In 1995 a paper describing this pioneering work was presented in a conference focusing on complementary therapies.“The Benefits of Reiki Treatment in Drug and Rehabilitation Programs” presented the cumulative data gathered from three years of using Reiki in the Windana Society’s drug and rehabilitation program.

In 2002, authors Eilene Chapman and Geraldine Milton expanded on the claims they made in their 1995 report. Entitled “Reiki as an Intervention in Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal and Rehabilitation — Almost a decade of experience,” this latest report included the authors’ findings that Reiki “often appears to address the conscious and unconscious spiritual needs of drug users.” The authors also expound on the fact that Reiki appeared to elicit self-awareness, which in turn “facilitated the counseling process” and assisted the clients in their personal growth.

Effects of Reiki Treatment on the Detoxification Process

Milton and Chapman, in their 1995 report said that the “overall findings suggest that the improvements in health outcomes for residents receiving Reiki have been remarkable, particularly during those difficult first weeks of drug withdrawal.”

Many of those who participated in the program were long-term drug users. The main drugs of choice for many were heroin (70%) and amphetamines (30%). There were cocaine users (30%), alcohol addicts (50%), and others used benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Almost 100% were cigarette smokers. 50% were on methadone — a drug used in some drug rehabilitation programs. Those who were on a methadone program had to detoxify from the methadone as well.

Other drug programs use methadone, serapax and Librium to address the withdrawal symptoms which include anxiety, depression, mood swings, insomnia, sweating, restlessness, abdominal cramps, irritability and muscular pains. In Windana, no drugs are used. Instead, group therapy, counseling and natural therapies are used in the drug withdrawal phase.

When Reiki was incorporated into the program to assist in detoxification, Chapman and Milton reported that Reiki appeared to induce a profound and prolonged state of relaxation: “Recipients of Reiki also generally express feelings of ‘peace’ and ‘wellbeing’ with a greater ability to sleep after treatment. This is a very significant benefit for residents during the early stages of drug withdrawal because difficulty in sleeping is a common problem.” This state of relaxation was observed to last for a long period of time and was characterized by a reduction in the anxiety level, less tension and aggression.

Chapman and Milton also noted evidence suggesting that Reiki treatments accelerate the detoxification process “and many residents report that they feel really ‘energized’ after having Reiki treatment.”

After the detoxification process, 27 residents were taught First Degree Reiki so that they would be able to treat themselves. Says Chapman and Milton: “Reports indicate that those that have learned Reiki have coped better with group therapy sessions that they perceive as potentially confronting and have been able to cope with bouts of depression when they have returned to the wider community.” The Therapeutic Community staff also reported that a few days after learning Reiki, the participants experienced a re-surfacing of buried emotions which they were then able to discuss and resolve in the supportive environment provided by The Therapeutic Community.

Reiki as an Effective Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation

Reiki also helped ease the physical aches and pains which are side effects of the withdrawal process. Furthermore, Reiki proved to be calming and soothing for those who exhibited tremors. Reiki was also deemed beneficial for speed users “whose brains are usually racing at a million miles an hour.”

One interesting phenomenon experienced only by those who received Reiki treatments was the common experience of receiving images that were not hallucinatory in nature, yet occurred spontaneously and helped in the counseling process. The images always had significance for the clients. The Reiki therapists did not interpret the images; the participants were allowed to do that on their own and this often lead to resolution of existing unresolved issues.

In their 2002 report, Chapman and Milton duplicated most of the findings they outlined in their 1995 report. They concluded that “Reiki appears to induce a profound relaxation response within 10 minutes for nearly all recipients. This relaxation may last from a few hours to even a week, and is usually coupled with a reduction in client anxiety, tension and aggression.”

The findings are succinctly echoed in the words of one client — a man named Jim — who commented after his first Reiki treatment: “I have never felt so at peace. Now I know what peace is.”

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