The Ayurvedic Approach to Treating Substance Abuse & Addiction

For anyone affected by a dangerous drug or alcohol addiction, treatments must be varied to address the specific traits of the individual's situation.

Addiction is a social and psychological problem requiring the holistic approach of Ayurveda to combine herbal medicine, meditation, and exercises. The Ayurvedic system has been practiced and refined for thousands of years and can be implemented into any existing treatment program.

A variety of Panchakarma therapies can be used to detoxify the body and encourage cleanliness. These rituals, which must be performed by a true Ayurveda expert, involve various oils and herbs to eliminate negative conditions in accordance with ancient traditions. While unorthodox, these methods work.

A particularly useful purifying Panchakarma therapy for treating addiction is known as Virechana. This treatment purifies the blood and cleanses the gastro-intestinal tract, removing toxins over a period of several days. It also cleanses the sweat glands, intestines, colon, kidneys, liver, stomach, and spleen using various herbs and laxatives including senna, prune, flaxseed husk, and psyllium seed as well as cow's milk, raisins, mango juice, and castor oil.

Another type of therapy from within the Ayurvedic tradition that can be helpful in the treatment of drug or alcohol addiction is known as Rasayana. Based upon the conservation and transmutation of energy, it improves physical and mental characteristics, increasing the human body's natural metabolic processes and removing excesses while improving brain function and immunities. Consisting of intricate head, face, and full body massages combined with medicated herb oils and creams, the treatment can reverse artificial aging from abusive habits.

In addition to these therapies, a wide variety of herbal medications can be employed during the addiction recovery process to better enable progressive healing. The roots of the ashwagandha plant can be mixed into a chamomile tea to heal the lungs, removing smoke damage and regenerating internal tissue. Ginger, hot peppers, honey, tumeric, barberry, and lemon are often prescribed to reduce cravings of addictive substances.

Besides these supplements, a number of dietary changes that adhere to Ayurvedic principles may be found complementary to the lifestyle of a recovering addict. Selecting foods that are high in protein and carbohydrates while containing as little fat as possible is recommended. In general, avoiding meats in favor of fiber rich raw vegetables is preferable.

Furthermore, plenty of restful deep sleep will allow the body to rebuild itself using the superior building blocks it is intaking as opposed to the volatile compounds it finds itself addicted to.

During the recovery process, to counteract the chaotic chemicals wreaking havoc upon the addict’s brain, steady exercise will generate extra endorphins that keep things clear and upbeat.

Yoga is a phenomenal activity capable of stimulating every part of the body without putting too much stress anywhere. Combined with breathing techniques and meditation, a yogic practice can be the uplifting habit a recovering addict needs to keep to the straight and narrow. For anyone dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction, seeking a structured yoga class should accompany a well-formulated recovery plan.

About the Author

Hayley Granton is a drug and alcohol counselor residing in Florida. Learn more here about how you can help someone you know seek help for substance abuse. To learn more about the dangers of drugs, please click here.

Tagged under: ayurveda, Yoga Practice