The ideation behind the use of saunas in drug treatment is that many of the toxins and metabolites ingested through a period of drug or alcohol abuse become trapped in the fatty tissues of the body; and without a targeted elimination of these toxins, metabolites can remain trapped within the body for months or even years.
Advocates of sauna for detox claim that these toxins in the body continue to influence negative emotions, drug cravings and behaviors for as long as they remain within the body, and that the danger of relapse is greatly increased when these toxins are sporadically released into the blood stream during long term recovery.
Sauna proponents claim that the quickest and safest way to eliminate toxins is through the use of long and intensive periods of sweating in temperate saunas.
Saunas have long been used therapeutically within Scandinavian and Native American cultures, and with the elimination of bodily toxins through an accelerated perspiration process, sauna advocates claim that health is increased, and well being enhanced. Because of their therapeutic history within certain Native American communities, sauna drug treatment programs are increasingly used for populations of drug or alcohol abusing Native Americans.
Therapeutic saunas in drug treatment
Testing the sweat or urine in the initial days of recovery reveals minimal levels of drug metabolites excreted, but these levels are increased dramatically during the first and second week of sauna therapy; and this evidence of metabolite excretion is used as medical justification for the efficacy of a sauna program in drug rehab treatment.
Sauna drug treatment participants generally undergo a month or more of intensive sauna detoxifications. The daily sauna routine involves a short period of brisk exercise, designed to increase heart rates, blood flow to the skin and to induce sweating; and is followed by multi hour sessions in a temperate dry sauna. By maintaining the sauna at a comfortable heat, participants can safely stay within the sauna for periods as long as three hours.
Because sauna drug treatment therapy induces vigorous perspiration, drinking replacement fluids throughout the therapy is required. Additionally, because trace amounts of essential nutrients and vitamins are also released during perspiration, sauna programs in drug rehab are combined with a supplementary diet of vitamins and minerals, targeted to improve nutritional health, to replace the vitamins and minerals lost to sweating, and to increase blood flow and induce ever heavier perspiration.
For safety, medical personal evaluate all participants daily, and record vital signs and body weight information.
After a period of a few weeks to a month of daily saunas for drug detoxification, the metabolites are almost entirely removed, and the recovering addict is ready to begin participation in drug education and drug rehabilitation programming.
Although saunas are most commonly associated with the narconon drug rehab facilities, many holistic drug rehab centers now also offer saunas as a part of comprehensive programming.
Do saunas as drug treatment work?
Some addictions professionals remain skeptical about both the recovery success rates as reported, and as well at the scientific justification for the use of saunas in a drug rehab program.
Whether or not the primary goal of drug rehab should be saunas that eliminate drug metabolites is debatable, but as part of a holistic drug rehab program, the use of toxin cleansing saunas likely offers some benefit.
Page last updated May 10, 2011