Along with massage and other holistic treatments, APEX offers yoga as part of our integrative treatment therapies. We’ve found the mind-body-spirit approach of yoga to be a great adjunct therapy to conventional treatments for drug and alcohol abuse and addictions. Yoga offers patients peace and serenity, helps the body’s lymphatic system to aid in detoxification and creates a heightened sense of awareness. Combined, these benefits can greatly enhance recovery progression.
Addiction disconnects the user from their body, allowing them to focus only on signs telling them to use. With long-term abuse, the pleasurable sides of the addiction get less and less notable, pushing the user deeper into addiction. Yoga is, therefore, an excellent way for a recovering addict to get in touch with physical sensations. It opens the body and the mind together, and many former addicts who practice yoga say that they stopped feeling like prisoners in their own self.
There is evidence that yoga can regulate the levels of stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. Imbalance in these hormones is associated with anxiety, depression, trauma and addictive behavior. So, if the patient is able to stabilize cortisol and adrenaline through yoga, they will be less tempted to start using again.
There has also been a small pilot study that looked into the impact of yoga in neurotransmitters. Although more research is necessary, the results suggest yoga increases the levels of GABA neurotransmitters in the brain, which are responsible for producing the feeling of calm. This is particularly important for those who abused benzodiazepines, because their addiction caused their brain to shut down natural production of this chemical.
Yoga also provides a path to spirituality. The positive feelings it induces are also a sort of “high”, but a healthy one. The philosophy of yoga can help the patient to fill the hole within them – the one they have been feeding through abuse.
Yoga is also known to promote mindfulness, which is important in other therapeutic approaches as well – such as Relapse Prevention Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. The breathing exercises in yoga teach the individual how to control obsessive thoughts through acceptance, which is a great complement to what the patients learn in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Finally, yoga is a training in self-discipline, which recovering addicts sorely lack. Addiction is characterized by impulsivity and cocaine addiction is best known for that. Practicing yoga gives patients an opportunity to combat negative impulses and channel their energy into something positive – thus empowering them to claim a life of sobriety.