Can Practicing Yoga Reduce Frequency Of Drug Abuse?

By Victoria Kim 10/23/15

A new study shows that aligning mind, body, and spirit can bring about wellness.

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Yoga intervention was effective in reducing heroin use and improving quality of life, according to a study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a group of medical colleges based in New Delhi.

Eighty four heroin users in treatment at a community clinic in east Delhi participated in the study. Researchers compared those who practiced Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY)—a set of controlled breathing techniques that work to improve the mind-body system—and meditation to supplement regular treatment, with those in standard drug treatment, who underwent opioid substitution therapy and psychosocial intervention.

According to the findings, yoga had a positive impact on the heroin users. It significantly improved the users’ physical and social relationships, and was able to reduce the frequency of drug use, which was monitored by drug testing.

The study findings suggest that “yoga intervention” is effective as a supplement to standard addiction treatment “to improve the quality of the life of drug users and also to further reduce the frequency of their drug use.”

India’s Ministry of AYUSH, a governmental body dedicated to developing research and education of traditional medicine, yoga, and other alternative medicine systems, funded the research.

The ministry concluded in a statement that this research should be continued with a larger sample size to confirm the findings of this study.

This study affirms what many people dealing with addiction have experienced firsthand. The philosophy of aligning the mind, body and spirit agrees with many individuals on their paths to wellness.

“There’s a spiritual component in yoga that isn’t necessarily there in normal exercise,” Taylor Hunt, a recovering addict who practices Ashtanga yoga, told The Fix this year. “For a long time I was disconnected. My behavior would show anger but I wouldn’t know it. Yoga provides a window to see what’s really going on.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr