Yoga and Drug Addiction

Millions of people all over the world are addicted to one substance or another as a way to cope with the stresses of life. Since substance abuse and drug addiction have such terrible consequences for the lives of those who are addicted as well as their loved ones, there is a great need for effective addiction treatment to help addicts deal with temptations to use and abuse drugs and other substances. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, tai chi and even yoga are increasingly being used in combination with other therapies and treatments to get addicts off of drugs and to help them remain drug free. Of these therapies, yoga and drug addiction seem to go hand in hand as studies show that yoga can truly be beneficial in helping people to get off of drugs since yoga is a proven stress reliever.

Stress is a part of every individual’s life and many people often turn to drugs or other substances and harmful habits as a way to cope with stress. When people feel stressed out, they are more likely to let their guard down and relapse into former bad habits. The regular practice of yoga has been shown to lower blood pressure, and also promote the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer, which can help ease aches, pains, and inflammation and also improve depression and even feelings related to self-esteem. All of these features can help addicts to feel better and more positive or grounded in their identity so that they have strength to resist cravings and temptations to relapse into drug use.

The practice of yoga has four areas that can help addicts struggling with their drug addictions:  breathing, flow, restoration and meditation. The breathing exercises in yoga not only help to get more oxygen into the body to promote healing, they help people to feel more “centered” and “in control.” These types of exercises help to calm the body and mind. Practicing a series of yoga poses such as a salutation can help an addict feel more connected with their lives, and can help them begin and end each day with a sense of purpose and connectedness with themselves and their own bodies. Having this sense of connection makes the addict more willing and likely to take better care of themselves and resist temptations to abuse their bodies with drugs. By performing restorative poses in yoga, the addict stretches out the tensions from stress that they carry with them in their bodies and can help them to relax from stress. Finally, yoga also features meditations with many of its poses that can help improve the addict’s sense of well-being and purpose. When combined with other therapies such as counseling, support groups, and healthy nutrition, yoga can be very beneficial in helping almost anyone beat their addiction to alcohol, drugs or other harmful habits in a safe, natural way that aids in the healing process. New York psychotherapist Mary Margaret Frederick, Ph.D. says, “Addicts are profoundly out of control internally. They have knee-jerk panic reactions and tempers. The will and determination yoga requires helps people regain control over their body and their mind.”[i] At New Directions we understand the power of yoga in the recovery process and our personal trainer, Ethan Hedayat, incorporates yoga in his sessions with our patients. New Directions for Women offers the same option to women, children and families who desire a similar result. Know someone who needs treatment (even if they are not a female)? Contact us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or simply by phone at 949-313-1192. We can help.


[i] Stacy Stukin. (n.d.). Freedom from Addiction. Yoga Journal. Retrieved 02/07/2013.


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