Recent Research on Yoga’s Benefits in Fighting Addiction

Yoga is a mind-body practice that involves the combination of physical exertion, mindfulness, and breathing, and has been used for centuries to encourage overall wellness. Although it’s known to reduce stress and anxiety, until recent years, few studies have been done to examine the specific benefits of yoga against addiction.

Here is some of the newest research on utilizing yoga to help overcome addiction.

Yoga Improves Mood and Quality of Life

A Chinese study demonstrated the impact of yoga for women going through heroin detox. Women in a hospital detox center were randomly assigned to either the regular hospital addiction program or the addiction program along with a six-month yoga intervention. Those that implemented yoga into their treatment showed a significant improvement in both mood and quality of life.

Yoga Improves Functioning

For many individuals struggling with drugs or alchol, , day-to-day function becomes impaired as their addiction grows, but a recent study performed in India shows that yoga can help. For six weeks, 111 men with substance abuse problems either participated in a daily Sudarshan Kriya yoga practice or sat quietly paying attention to their breathing. The men who performed yoga had a statistically significant improvement in Global Assessment of Functioning (GAR) scores, anxiety levels, and general feelings of health and wellness.

Yoga Reduces Use

One Swedish study showed that yoga worked better than traditional psychological and pharmacological treatments for alcohol dependence. One group engaged in 10 weeks of traditional addiction service and was compared to a group who went through a 10-week yoga class. The class meant once a week and participants were encouraged to practice yoga at home. After the class was over, the research showed that those in the yoga group had more control over their addiction than the control group, which was determined by alcohol consumption, affect, quality of life, and stress levels.

Yoga Improves Relapse Prevention

According to a study published in JAMA, drug and alcohol addicted patients who practice mindfulness may have better long-term outcomes. This study included over 200 participants broken into three different aftercare groups. The first group received mindfulness-based relapse prevention; the second group underwent cognitive behavioral relapse prevention; and the third group had the traditional 12-step programming and psychoeduction. After 12 months, those who practiced mindfulness had a significantly reduced risk for relapse and were less likely to use drugs or binge drink.

While the addition of yoga to addiction treatment is relatively new, recent research supports yoga’s benefits to the overall process of overcoming addiction. As drug and alcohol addictions seem to grow, yoga may become more and more prevalent and increase the chance of lifelong success in recovery.