Yoga for Addiction Treatment: Why It Works
First responders are associated with bravery and heroism, but they also experience significant trauma and chronic stress on the job. Emotional trauma and stress have led some first responders down the dark path to addiction. While traditional treatments like rehab and counseling work wonders for some, others respond even better to alternative treatments like restorative yoga.
While some soldiers, police, or fire fighters have initially scoffed at the likelihood that yoga could help them manage their addiction, many are shocked at how this unusual therapy with ancient roots can nurture recovery and help them manage their addiction effectively. Here are reasons why yoga for addiction treatment works.
Yoga for Addiction Treatment
Addiction is a disease that is associated with physical, mental, and behavioral dependencies. While treatments like medical detox can address the physical aspects of addiction, other treatments must address the psychological and behavioral aspects of addiction, which can be quite powerful. During addiction treatment, sufferers must learn new strategies to cope with the triggers that have historically led them to abuse addictive substances and to ward off relapse. Yoga is a treatment that can help.
An ancient form of exercise, yoga isn’t simply about stretching and achieving challenging postures. It’s a practice that also calms the mind, enhances concentration, and fosters patience–three elements that can greatly help sufferers manage their compulsions and achieve greater mindfulness in their lives. Through this mindfulness, recovering first responders can keep their triggers at bay so they don’t suffer a relapse.
The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is a great addiction treatment for first responders because it’s an exercise that can greatly improve their physical fitness (an important asset for the job) while enhancing their mental health. Many people practice yoga for its spiritual aspects, but treatment programs that feature yoga tend to emphasize its meditative qualities that are known to alleviate stress and improve mental focus.
While yoga’s physical benefits include increased stamina, improved flexibility & posture, improved cardiovascular health, reduced blood pressure, and a healthier weight, it also offers many psychological benefits. For example, people who practice yoga for addiction treatment regularly experience reduced levels of stress, a greater sense of inner peace, improved patience, and improved methods of coping with stress. Many first responders who participate in yoga therapy are surprised at how much better they sleep or the sense of mental clarity they experience after a session.
Meditation and yoga are especially helpful after addiction sufferers have left rehab and face the day-to-day challenges that led them to addiction in the first place. As a form of aftercare, it can provide the support recovering first responders need to refrain from abusing alcohol or drugs again.
If you still aren’t sure that yoga can enhance your mental state, just consider that studies have shown that yoga can substantially reduce cortisol (stress hormones) levels in the body. When these hormones dissipate, sufferers quite literally experience less stress. To enhance your recovery, you owe it to your physical and mental health to give this practice a try; you, like so many others, are sure to be pleasantly surprised with its positive results.