10 Benefits of Yoga in Addiction Treatment

yoga for addiction treatment

Yoga is a centuries-old practice, and its roots lie mainly in Hindu culture. Everyone I know who does Yoga regularly cannot stop raving about it. People continue their practice of Yoga throughout their lives, and pretty much all of them claim that Yoga has changed them for the better.

I have a friend who has been in rehab for some time, and she’s trying to recover from her days as an alcoholic. She told me that they make her practice Yoga every day. Curious, I asked the establishment why they do this, to which they answered that Yoga helps the candidates with their addiction treatment.

The representative further went on to say that Yoga does not have a direct effect on addiction treatment, but in fact, it is the individual benefits that Yoga imparts to us that combine to help people recover from substance abuse.

The representative said some very believable things about Yoga as a beneficial practice for addicts, but curiosity had already taken over. I decided to do my research and see how exactly Yoga helps addicts recover. Here is everything I have uncovered about the subject:

10 Benefits of Yoga in Addiction Treatment

Reduces Stress and Anxiety [1]

The biggest reasons why former addicts fall into relapse are stress and anxiety. These are the most potent withdrawal symptoms of any drug of abuse that a person is addicted to. The biggest reason for these withdrawal symptoms is that the user has become dependent on the drug for his or her survival in daily life. Now, even if he is logically aware of the fact that the drug is doing more harm than good, his mind is subconsciously telling his body that he needs the drug to survive.


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This whole process results in the person being anxious every time the effects of the drug wear off. The more addicted you are, the worse the stress is; which is to say that even minor addicts feel a fair bit of stress when they try to get rid of the drug.

Now, where does Yoga fit into this equation?

A large part of Yoga is meditation. Meditation requires you to take deep breaths and focus your mind. The ultimate goal of mediation is to bring your spirit, mind, and body in perfect sync. Experienced meditators can empty their minds completely and cut themselves off from the world.

So meditation helps you out by synchronizing your mind, body, and spirit. It helps you realize that you don’t need the drug for your daily survival and you will be much happier without it tainting your life.


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I understand that many people do not believe in spiritual mumbo-jumbo, so let me get scientific with you all. There is a hormone in our body called cortisol which causes stress. The higher the level of cortisol we have in our body at one time, the more stressed out we are.

There has been much research on the effect of Yoga on the levels of cortisol in our body. And as we all knew, the de-stressing effect of Yoga comes from lowering cortisol levels in our body.

Helps with Self-Control

So that long rant laid down the basis for the rest of our arguments. So here comes another benefit of Yoga and meditation: self-control.

If you know any experienced Yoga practitioner, you probably see him or her as an extremely content and simple person. It is probable that these people eat and drink as healthy as possible as well.

Yogis become this way because Yoga teaches them to practice self-control. Through long hours of meditation, they teach themselves to stop being reliant on their desires and start leading simpler and happier lives.

Naturally, this technique works wonders for addicts. They learn to curb their cravings and stay more focused on their goal of recovering.

addiction treatment

Makes You Sleep Better [2]

Another major concern that people who are recovering addicts face is insomnia. You will find insomnia in every drug abuser. The reason for this insomnia is mostly the disturbance in sleep patterns caused by many drugs and alcohol. One would think that letting go of these drugs would make our sleep cycle all better but sadly, that is not the case.

There are quite a few reasons why Yoga is good for people who have a hard time sleeping. The first is that Yoga can be tiring, especially if you practice it for a couple of hours every day. Naturally, by the end of a tiring Yoga-filled day, you would want to lie down and sleep.

Other than that, you naturally begin to sleep better when you are no longer stressed or anxious.


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Keeps You From Tiring Out

Drug addicts become energized for a short while when they take the drug. The energy stays till the effects of the drug stay and wears off with the drug as well. So when a person wishes to recover from their drug abuse habit, they are generally tired out because the drug does not affect them.

Yoga actively combats the ill-effects of these drugs and therefore keeps you from being tired all the time. And since Yoga is essentially physical exercise, it also helps you stay energized for longer time periods.

Regulates Emotions

Drugs have terrible effects on our emotions. Almost all drugs of abuse end up giving us mood swings. Even when we are aware of the fact that our emotions don’t make any sense and we are unreasonable, we continue to exhibit them because we are under the drug’s control.

Yoga helps you control your mind and your emotions. Constant practice of Yoga brings you to a very neutral place where you exhibit no emotion. You are then able to assess everything you feel within you. It is quite like having an intervention with yourself and seeing which one of your emotions are justified and necessary and which ones need to go. At this point, you evaluate your actions very carefully and show your emotions only when you feel that there is a need to do so.

yoga in addiction

Hones Your Spirituality [3]

Now, many of us out there don’t exactly believe in spirituality. Others amongst us get confused between spirituality and religion. Keep in mind that Yoga is not a part of any one religion and it does not change your beliefs in any way. It simply helps in strengthening your bond with the supernatural forces of Mother Nature.

Meditation during Yoga is the best way to achieve this spirituality. It is a very self-driven effort, but the effects of a spiritual behavior are massive. It is like you are asking the universe to cleanse you of your drug abuse habit and every power in the world is helping you do so. You might even say that you are trying to hypnotize yourself in a way.

Relieves Pain [4]

Recovering from addiction is not only a mentally taxing process, but it can also prove to be physically painful for most people. And the more addicted a substance abuser is to a drug, the more pronounced his or her pain will be once there is no trace of the drug left in their body.

The reason for this pain is that the drugs in our body make our responses go haywire and their absence makes it worse. The only way to get back to normal is to re-learn these responses and Yoga helps to accelerate the process because of the different meditation techniques it offers.

Can Help with Withdrawal Symptoms

There are many withdrawal symptoms other than pain that the absence of a drug can make you feel. Increased blood pressure, palpations, sweating, and hallucinations are just a few of these symptoms.

Since these are all responses to the absence of a drug the user has become dependent on, they have to be flushed out. Yoga, meditation, and focus can effectively help with these symptoms.

Keeps You Active

When your body believes that it needs a particular drug to survive, it will remain lethargic till you give it some of that drug. This is another thing you will need to un-learn.

Starting your day off with a couple of hours of Yoga will help in keeping you active all day. You can then indulge in activities that can keep your mind off from your addiction treatment. You can get back to some old habits like playing the guitar or painting. You can also pick up new hobbies like crafting.

Makes You Self Aware

We are all intelligent here. We all know that we don’t need that drug to survive and our lives before the drug were monumentally better. Then why must we crave it so badly?

The biggest reason is that we lose self-awareness, and then with it, we lose self-control. Yoga can help you regain that self-control with the help of meditation and some self-reflection. Once you gain control of your body, it will become easier to bid farewell to the substance that almost ruined your whole life.


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[1]: Cortisol and Antidepressant Effect of Yoga
[2]: Yoga and Emotions
[3]: Using Yoga in Recovery
[4]: How Does Yoga Relieve Chronic Pain?

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