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Why Laughter is Important in Addiction Recovery

Addiction is a serious topic with serious consequences. People lose their jobs, their homes, and their lives. Quitting is a struggle and for many people it’s the hardest thing they’ll ever do. Despite all that, or because of it, laughing is one of the best things you can do for yourself in recovery. Here’s why.

Laughter reduces stress.

Laughing is a good way to immediately relieve stress. It releases endorphins that make you feel better and it relaxes your muscles. Laughing tells your brain that whatever you were so worried about is not really that bad. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be laughing. Some people even think laughter evolved as a way to let everyone know that a perceived threat is actually harmless. For example, think of how you respond when you see someone slip on the ice and then see he is unhurt and even laughing. You feel relieved and maybe amused. The stress instantly dissipates. Since stress is perhaps the biggest trigger of cravings, everything that reduces stress increases your chances of a long recovery.

Laughter improves your immune system.

When you are less chronically stressed, your immune system works better. Having high levels of the stress hormone cortisol essentially turns off your immune system. It signals you’re under threat and you have to devote all your resources to fight or flight–no time for healing. Laughing signals the danger is over for now, so your body can get back to normal.

Laughter reduces pain.

The endorphins produced by laughter and the lower level of stress reduce the feeling of pain. This has many benefits for recovery. Detox is often painful. People detoxing from opioids are especially prone to bone and muscle aches, but headaches and other discomfort are common withdrawal symptoms from many drugs. What’s more, many people began taking opioids to begin with as a way to manage chronic pain. Often, that pain persists in recovery. Laughter, combined with other treatments, is a healthy way to reduce chronic pain.

Laughter improves your mood.

It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re laughing. Staying in a positive frame of mind is one of the best things you can do for yourself in recovery. On the other hand, 12-step veterans know that people who are persistently negative or cynical are in danger of relapse. Laughing helps keep you positive. Looking for the absurd in a bad situation is a good way to keep from being overwhelmed by it.

Castle Craig is one of the most established and respected addiction rehab centres in the UK. Castle Craig treats alcoholism and drug addiction as an illness and promote abstinence as essential for long-lasting recovery. We help patients recover through an intensive, personalised programme that combines medical treatment, 12 Step therapy, CBT and other psychiatric therapies and complementary therapies. For information, call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 256 3732. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006 (normal charges apply).

Page published: April 13, 2018. Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked January 29, 2020