Ayurveda believes that addiction to alcohol or drugs is created due to an imbalance of the constitution that the individual believes is being addressed through the use of an outside stimulus, when in fact these substances are simply furthering these imbalances. The goal of Ayurveda is to address these imbalances and to give the individual the tools to handle stressors without the use of drugs or alcohol. Addiction and alcoholism is not only a physical imbalance of an individual constitution, but a psychological one as well. When a person stops the use of drugs or alcohol abruptly they will usually experience withdrawal symptoms, and in certain cases they can be life threatening. Ayurveda is not a substitution or replacement for medical attention or specialized treatment programs, such as rehabilitation programs or 12-step recovery. It can be used in addition to a treatment plan, and as a supplement to life long recovery (such as the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous or it's sister programs, originally laid out by Bill Wilson).
Addiction is a tiered disease; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual imbalances should be addressed accordingly. The first goal of Ayurveda, when dealing with addiction is to detoxify the body. After physical homeostasis is achieved, the emotional, mental and spiritual state of being can be addressed.
Ayurveda uses a variety of tools that may be of value to an individual in drug and alcohol recovery. A few of these may include:
Yoga asana (postures) to help restore the body and energetic field.
Ayurvedic diet to restore nutritional deficiencies.
Meditation tools for coping with daily mental and emotional stressors and to cultivate a connection with a Higher Power.
Daily rituals (dincharya) for a purified body, mind and spirit.
Herbal remedies for physical and mental wellness.
Holistic massage and bodywork therapies to address system imbalances, specifically the nervous system.
Ayurvedic treatment and healing programs are individualized, but typically contain the following steps:
Step One: Determining the Doshas An Ayurvedic consultation will determine an individuals unique bodily constitution (prakriti and vikriti ) and what imbalances need to be restored.
Step Two: Detoxification & Purification (Panchakarma) Pancha means "five" in Sanskrit and "karma" means action. Panchakarma is a unique set of five detoxifying Ayurvedic treatments. Treatments will be used and adjusted according to each client's individual needs.
Step Three: Restoring Ojas Ojas is the term in Ayurveda that refers to the vital force of the body or the pure essence of one's being. Addiction depletes ojas, which needs to be restored for good health. This is done by examining the diet and enhancing food intake that replenishes ojas.
Step Four: Enhancing Tejas In Ayurveda, tejas is our body's innate wisdom. Restoration allows all cells to have the revitalization of energy and intelligence that they need to perform all necessary internal functions of the body. It also is the way that the mind is able to digest and process mental thoughts and impressions using cellular metabolic energy. A strong tejas gives us the power to digest, process and eliminate on the physical as well a mental level. The use of mantra and energy work techniques are incorporated here.
Step Five: Moving Prana Using the techniques of pranayama (yogic breathwork) the next step involves learning to control the breath, or prana, as it moves throughout the body. By doing this, one can learn to tame anxiety and bring mental clarity to the forefront.
Step Six: Yoga Yoga is a sister science of Ayurveda and means "union". While, controlling the breath is one step to maintaining control over one's being, yoga brings the breath, body and mind into alignment calming the nervous system in it's entirety. It is a nonjudgemental practice that is done on a mat and using principles that are carried into the rest of the world. Y12SR classes are highly recommended.
Step Seven: Meditation This practice involves the gradual shutting down of all the body’s sensory channels, to learn to sit with oneself in stillness. It is meant as a means to turn inward, to find a way to bring a quiet moment of peace whenever it is needed.
Step Eight: Dincharya Dincharya is the ideal daily Ayurvedic routine and rituals. By creating a new life routine we set new intentions for ourselves in order to create the life we want, not the life addiction had created for us. Finding ways to incorporate the Ayurvedic rituals into our daily lives in a realistic way is key to have continued success in recovery.