somatic experiencing

Healing the Pain of Addiction with Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing is a form of therapy aimed at relieving the pain of addiction by focusing on your perceived body sensations. The centering is supported by meditative breath work. This type of therapy reinforces your inherent capacity for self empowerment and healing, especially when dealing with mind-body impacts of addiction.

Specifically, Somatic Experiencing can help to heal the pain of addiction as it:

  • Creates mind-body breath awareness, which will help dissipate feelings of irritability, restlessness and compulsive thoughts
  • Provides more energy and focus to self regulate your anxiety and depression
  • Enhances and optimizes brain and heart function, which reduces stress held in the body
  • Develops a sense of being grounded and connected to yourself and to others, as a hallmark of drug and alcohol abuse always leads to isolation

Try out this step-by-step list to practice it on your own:

  1. Sit in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Keep your back straight and chest open. Relax your arms on your legs to support the upper body, shoulders, neck and head.
  2. When you feel steady, soften your breath to center and quiet your thoughts
  3. Be open-minded to any and all body sensations.
  4. Create awareness of the feelings that arise with these sensations such as tingling, temperature shifts, contractions, expansions or numbness.
  5. Focus the breath to connect to the sensations specifically where they are in the body.
  6. Be open and ground yourself to the feelings associated with your experience to allow yourself a safe space to integrate the two.

When you develop this awareness that the body does not lie, it will lead your thoughts away from their usual manipulations and painful patterns and toward understanding. The Somatic Experiencing technique creates a space for the physical symptoms of addiction to be expressed and processed in a healthy way and that is essential for healing the pain of addiction.

Remember, addiction and substance abuse negatively affects your mental, emotional, and physical health. Learning to be in touch with how addiction creates pain in the body is critical for an enhanced recovery. You can use this practice daily to strengthen your “body map” and develop a dialogue that connects your body’s innate wisdom with your own self healing capabilities.

Can you tell how the shame and guilt of addiction is felt in your body? Can you locate it physically? Please share your feelings and thoughts below.

Richard Cino, LCSW-R - NYC Therapist

Richard Cino, LCSW-R - NYC Therapist

Psychotherapist at myTherapyNYC
Offers individual and couples counseling. He specializes in addiction, sexual addiction, depression and anxiety.
Richard Cino, LCSW-R - NYC Therapist

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3 replies
  1. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    Such great tips on how to get centered. I find people have so much trouble slowing down, especially living in a busy urban environment. Feeling the grounded and slowing your breath can be so helpful in focusing thoughts and starting to heal.

  2. Cate
    Cate says:

    This would be a helpful exercise for anyone! Not just those who are touched by addictive behaviors. Knowing how and where we carry tension in our bodies is so helpful in unlocking and releasing painful emotions. Thanks for the tips!!

  3. Nikki
    Nikki says:

    I agree with Cate that this exercise would be helpful for anyone who needs to slow down and begin to identify what they’re feeling in their body. It is such a simple technique that can go a long way. Thank you for sharing!


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