Using Humor in Treatment of Substance Use Disorders: Worthy of Further Investigation

Benjamin Canha*
University of Maryland, School of Nursing, Maryland 20850, USA

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© Benjamin Canha; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Maryland, School of Nursing, 9640 Gudelsky Drive, Room 317B, Rockville, Maryland 20850, USA; Tel: 301-502-4863; Fax: 301-738-6040; E-mail:


Throughout the literature, humor has demonstrated positive effects on memory and learning, as well as physiological and psychological well being. Research has described improvements in communication and trust through the use of humor in the nurse-patient relationship. The utilization of humor with certain populations, including those with anxiety disorders, cancer patients and mood disorders has also been widely described in the literature but little research has been conducted with humor use in patients’ recovery from substance use disorders. This population might benefit from the thoughtful applications of humor to promote laughter and mirth as well as learning recovery principles. A review of the humor theories, theoretical processes and humor styles are discussed for their use in individuals with substance use disorders, in particularly for early recovery engagement in 12 step programs and other recover support social networks. The application of humor in efforts to support recovery with substance use disorder patients is worth investigating further.

Keywords: Addiction, humor, humor styles, humor theories, recovery, substance use disorders.