According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSUDH), more than 21 million people in the US of 12 years of age and older are battling, or have battled, addiction issues. That equates to around 1 in every 12 adults in America, which is a shocking statistic and one that unfortunately shows no sign of improving.
Because of years of research and our better understanding of substance abuse, there are now an extremely wide variety of therapies and treatments available that are either complementary, medical (traditional), experiential or alternative. When used in combination, a powerful blend of treatments and therapies can be used to treat patients on a personalized basis, so that they receive the most effective program of care for their specific needs.
Yoga Is a Natural Form of Medicine Used in Rehab
One complementary therapy is yoga and it is designed to be practised as part of a program at a recovery treatment centre, rather than a standalone practice. Although yoga is a very ancient practice, modern yoga is described as the use of different physical postures as a way to establish a connection between the mind and body. Yoga is sometimes referred to as a mindfulness practice because it focuses on breathing which raises self-awareness and improves a person’s ability to achieve a meditative state.
Although yoga seems like a very genteel and sedate activity, it is actually a very strenuous form of exercise which is very beneficial in addiction treatment. These days millions of people enjoy the benefits of yoga which include improved posture, flexibility, and overall well-being.
There are many benefits of yoga which include:
- Relieves stress and pain
- Increases physical strength and stamina
- Improves self-awareness and self-reflection
- Encourages healthier exercise and nutrition
- Induces better sleep patterns
- Increase energy levels and reduces fatigue
- Heals on an emotional level
Yoga is increasingly offered in addiction treatment centres as an effective way of reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, prevent relapse and also promote a healthier lifestyle throughout recovery. Yoga is also an excellent coping mechanism for the daily stressors and triggers people may face when they have left the recovery treatment center. One of the best things about yoga is that there is no need to invest in lots of paraphernalia to do the activity and it can be practised anywhere at any time.
When faced with a difficult situation, a patient who has learned yoga techniques can use breathing mechanisms to induce a mental state that is more capable of dealing with it. Breathing deeply and slowly ‘resets’ the body by reducing blood pressure and slowing the heart rate and ultimately it is one of the most effective practices for coping with stress, which is why it is so effective in the treatment of addiction.
Although there is nothing religious about the practice of yoga, many people find it assists in their spiritual growth as they learn how to connect their mind, body, and soul. Yoga also has beneficial effects on the brain, affecting the parts of the brain dealing with pleasure sensations, regulating emotions, judgment and controlling impulses, which are areas someone with addiction issues needs to address for a successful recovery.
For hundreds of years, yoga has been used to relieve stress. Scientific research has proved there is a link between practising yoga and stress-reduction. This is because yoga regulates and balances stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to induce a relaxed, almost meditational state which is extremely effective in preventing relapse for recovering addicts.
As part of a wider addiction treatment program, yoga certainly has its place, providing an enjoyable therapy that is also beneficial for a patient’s physical and emotional health. Learning a mindfulness skill that can easily be incorporated into daily life serves to significantly boost self-awareness and this can go on to improve close personal relationships that may have suffered as a result of addiction issues.