How Does Yoga Help People Overcome Addiction?
From the website drugrehab.com
“Yoga offers a unique combination of physical exercises and relaxation techniques that are unlike any other conventional exercises,” Geri Topfer, founder and president of Kula for Karma, told DrugRehab.com.
Topfer’s organization brings therapeutic yoga to individuals with physical or mental health problems, from veterans with PTSD to people recovering from heroin addiction. The nonprofit organization partners with Advanced Recovery Systems to provide yoga to people receiving addiction treatment around the United States.
An increasing number of studies suggest that mindfulness activities, such as yoga, can help people overcome addiction when complemented by traditional treatment. Meditation’s effect on the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain may be a reason why.
“Yoga raises the levels of GABA, which has shown to reduce stress and anxiety,” said Topfer.
A 2014 study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine examined the effect of yoga alongside rehab in treating alcohol dependence. In the trial, 18 people battling alcohol dependence in Sweden received traditional treatment or traditional treatment plus yoga. The results showed that the greatest reduction in drinking occurred among the group that incorporated yoga into treatment.
Yoga may help people addicted to heroin, a drug involved in about 15,500 U.S. deaths in 2016. A study published in the journal Nursing Research indicated that yoga can significantly improve the mood and quality of life in female heroin users undergoing drug detoxification. Researchers concluded that the activity can be used alongside traditional care to treat heroin dependence.
Scientists are unsure how yoga improves health. But researchers believe that the activity releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that reduce pain and produce feelings of pleasure.
Participants of yoga may also experience psychological benefits. For example, the activity can help improve self-acceptance, reduce hostility and increase self-compassion. It can also help people suffering from mental health problems.
Topfer said that many people experience myriad benefits from practicing yoga every day. “It teaches self-control and relaxation,” she said. “When you’re on the mat, you concentrate on self-care. And that is liberating.”