Essential oils for bad habits and addictions

It’s coming up to that time of year where we often over-indulge, when all our regular habits go out the window and we say “ah well, it’s Christmas” and eat another mince pie or have an extra glass of wine  (not to say that’s wrong, if it makes you happy).  Of course, the challenge comes when you think it’s ‘wrong’ and you feel unhappy with your choice, but you don’t know how to curb it! 

Whilst I’m talking here about the obvious ‘over-indulgences’ at Christmas, there are also general day-to-day bad habits which we can struggle with all year round – perhaps smoking, coffee, anxiety, over-working, and more serious addictions, including alcohol dependence and drug abuse.  Whatever your ‘habit’ is, there is always an essential oil to support you! The irony is, as I write this, I’m actually munching my way through a big pack of chocolate buttons – so I’m about to go and test out a blend for that!

In this blog, we’ll look at how essential oils can support us through the difficult feelings of addictive habitual thinking, and which oils might be useful for different habits. Read on to learn how aromatherapy can help you curb those cravings…

Please note: before using Aromatherapy for addiction, ensure that you are not combining use of essential oils with any alcohol or drug use, as this can speed up the effect of the essential oils.

All about the feelings

We’ve discussed some of the possible additions that we might have, but let’s start with discussing the feelings that come with habitual thinking as these can be symptoms to focus on in themselves.  Underneath everything, any habit is created via habitual thinking.  When we begin to see that, it can help it drop away, but whilst we are in the feeling, it can be nice to grab an essential oil (or three) to help support us during the process of breaking bad habits.

Some of the feelings associated with addiction are anxiety and agitation, depressed mood, anger and irritability, tiredness, inability to sleep, over-thinking, and lack of mental clarity.  There are essential oils to support with all these things.

Addiction anxiety and agitation 

Anxious thinking is often tied into kicking habits.  There can be a lot of pressure, either from others, or just yourself, to ‘stop’ the thing you want to stop.  Be gentle with yourself; you are always doing the best you can!

There are some great essential oils to help any anxiety associated with weaning yourself off your addictive habit. Oils such as Bergamot, Chamomile, Cedarwood, Cypress, Lavender, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose, and Valerian are excellent for keeping you calm.

Why not pop a nice anxiety-busting blend on to diffuse?  Add 2 drops Bergamot, 2 drops Lavender and 2 drops Rose to a candle burner or aromatherapy diffuser.

Depressed mood

Often, when we are trying hard to ‘fix’ our habits or addictions, we can experience feelings of guilt and low mood.  

Essential oils for lifting the mood and helping you feel brighter include Bergamot, Clary Sage, Geranium, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Lemongrass, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Sweet Orange and Ylang Ylang.

Try a relaxing, mood-boosting bath to pamper yourself whilst you’re feeling low. You deserve a break!  Add 3 drops Geranium, 2 drops Lemon and 2 drops Ylang Ylang to 15ml of fragrance-free bath oil and add to your bath water. Lie back, breathe and relax, whilst remembering that you are always ok and you’re doing the best you can!

Anger & irritability

There are many essential oils that can help with feelings of anger that may arise from trying to kick your habit. You might notice that some of the oils overlap (Rose, for example, is great for releasing anger, and is also great for soothing anxiety) so you can begin to play around with your blends as you learn more about the properties of each oil!.

Some anger-releasing oils include Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Myrrh, Rose, Sweet Orange and Ylang Ylang.

Try making up an Anti-Anger Spritz to douse yourself with as negative feelings come up. In a spray bottle mix 10 drops Sweet Orange, 10 drops Chamomile, 5 drops Myrrh and 5 drops Ylang Ylang with 100ml Lavender Hydrolat and use as required throughout the day to create a sense of calm.

Alternatively, you could enjoy a relaxing massage. Mix 2 drops Bergamot, 2 drops Sweet Orange and 2 drops Rose with 15ml Sweet Almond Oil and massage into your skin, in a direction towards the heart.  Inhale the aroma and enjoy the peace and relaxation.

Tiredness & inability to sleep

If you are really feeling stuck with a habit, or stuck in thinking about it, it can feel very draining.  You might feel over-tired and maybe you struggle with sleep.  There are a few oils you can use in different ways to support this.

Firstly, energising essential oils could be used in the morning to revive you!  These include Grapefruit, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Peppermint, Rosemary, Tangerine and Yuzu.

Secondly, there are oils you could use at night to improve sleep.  These include Chamomile, Lavender, Mandarin, Rose, Sandalwood, Sweet Marjoram and Vetivert.  

To energise you on waking, try using an aromatherapy body oil after your shower. Mix 2 drops Lemon, 2 drops Lime and 2 drops Grapefruit with 15ml of Grapeseed Oil, and rub it into your body in a direction towards your heart.

To help you sleep, diffuse 2 drops Chamomile, 4 drops Mandarin and 2 drops Vetivert for 30 minutes going to bed.

Lack of clarity and overthinking

It can be so common to overthink habits and beat ourselves up with our thoughts.  This can lead to a complete lack of clarity.  Essential oils to help regain a clear mind include Basil, Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint and Rosemary.

Try diffusing a mind-clearing blend of 2 drops Basil, 3 drops Lemon and 2 drops Rosemary during the day to keep fuzziness at bay!

Which oils are essential for which habit?

As you now know a little about the oils that can help with the thinking and feelings behind addictive behaviour, you might feel confident enough to create your own blends! 

Here are some specific essential oils that I might advise to help with particular addictions – have a play around with them to create your own tailor-made blends.

Alcohol & drugs

Essential oils that may help with alcohol addiction and support detoxification include Basil, Chamomile, Clove, Grapefruit, Juniper and Sweet Marjoram. Only use essential oils if you are not combining with alcohol, as alcohol speeds up the effects of essential oils in the body.


Withdrawal from caffeine can be supported with Basil, Cinnamon, Grapefruit, Lavender, Nutmeg and Sweet Orange.  Some of these oils are great for adrenal fatigue, and will support the withdrawal process, as well as reducing cravings.

Food cravings

There are two fabulous oils for helping curb food cravings, and these are Grapefruit and Peppermint.  Bergamot, Clove and Cinnamon can be good too!  It’s always good to have a few drops of one of these oils in an aromatherapy inhaler so you can sniff it on the go, instead of reaching for something you don’t want to eat!


Geranium and Sandalwood essential oil can be helpful for sexual addictions, being very balancing for the reproductive system, as well as aiding relaxation.


For any tobacco habit, it can be great to have Basil, Black Pepper, Clove or Grapefruit on hand.  These are good for reducing cravings and are great in an inhaler, particularly if you’re used to having something in your hands.


If you’re addicted to work, then it might be worth considering oils to help you wind-down and calm your mind.  Basil, Lavender, Sweet Orange, Rose and Ylang Ylang are great for this!

Bespoke blending

Whilst we’ve included some example blends in this article, this isn’t an exhaustive list. I’m a big believer that our bodies know intuitively which oils they need. Use the list of oils as a starting point (along with the knowledge that ‘thought’ creates the habit). Then, trust your nose and be creative in selecting the essential oils that you like the smell of and that will help with the habit you’re struggling to kick!

If you'd like any further help or advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best of luck!

Nicole Barton
Consultant Aromatherapist

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