Laughter Therapy to Treat Addiction? Seriously?



Like the annoying and problematic Uncle Albert in the movie Mary Poppins, I love to laugh. Maybe it is because I am a pleasure seeker with a dopamine jones, or maybe it’s because I do not have the capacity for sturm und drang, or maybe I’m nuts. But I will always try to find the humor in the most ghastly of situations…


My ex-husband called it hysteria: my uncontrollable laughter at what he considered inopportune moments. Like the time we were arguing, walking downhill on our way to a party in San Francisco. He made a grandiose arm gesture, somehow hooking his thumb into his pocket and catastrophically ripping his pants, so the pocket material flapped like a little, tattered flag of surrender. He was furious, but I laughed so hard I had to stop walking. He continued on as I recall, and did not speak to me for the rest of the night (shielding his imperfection with a stiff arm), but I’m laughing as I write this, so he did not break my spirit.


There seems to be a lot of laughter in 12 Step meetings. We are an easy crowd. Laughologist, Albert Nerenberg says, “There are two possible reasons. After living as an addict for years, you’ve probably lost some of your inhibitions. You also have a lot of pain you want to relieve. But more intriguingly, people who get addicted to drugs are people who like to have fun and laugh in the first place. Sadly, it’s that same pursuit that may have gotten them into trouble”. Nerenberg works with Sobriety Home, a residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located near Montreal, Quebec, and they have been breaking new ground by incorporating laughter therapy into their comprehensive recovery program.


Beneficial, belly laughter can be taught. There are techniques that allow people to learn to laugh, and laugh hard, anytime they want: the techniques are based on natural triggers for contagious laughter, such as smiling and direct eye contact. Why teach addicts to laugh? Because laughter has been shown to boost endorphin production and it helps those suffering from addiction find joy and humor again, without resorting to drugs.


And speaking of laughter, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIM! Dance a little today. Love, M


Today I’m not drinking because I am laughing…

How come you’re not drinking?