The Yogi’s method for treating Alcoholism


Most of us are in some state of addiction; addiction doesn’t necessarily have to be to pleasurable experiences. One can also be addicted to painful experiences, such as poisonous relationships.


What causes Alcoholism?

When consumed in moderation, alcoholic beverages are relaxing; consumed in excess however, alcohol becomes poisonous. The cause of alcoholism is usually a mix of genetic, emotional, physical, psychological, environmental and social factors. It has been found that a person’s risk of becoming an alcoholic is three to four times larger if a parent is an alcoholic; however, the children of some alcoholics overcome the pattern by never drinking alcohol in the first place.


The Conventional Treatment

The conventional treatment for Alcoholism, has three stages: detoxification, rehabilitation and maintenance of sobriety. The first stage, “Detox” deals with the symptoms that can arise from abrupt decrease or discontinued use of alcohol. The second stage, “Rehab” deals with giving the alcoholic the skills required in order to maintain sobriety by way of counselling and/or medication. Maintenance of sobriety requires self-discipline, which can be complemented or reinforced with group meetings or counselling. All three stages, may require heavy medication.


The Yogi's Perspective

Most of us are in some state of addiction; addiction doesn’t necessarily have to be to pleasurable experiences. One can also be addicted to painful experiences, such as poisonous relationships.

Often, alcoholics believe their experiences under the influence of alcohol are superior to the experiences of people “slaving away” with their 9-5 jobs as “dictated” by society. Unless they are given something better, it’s very difficult they will give up what they have found. You may be looking down on them, but when they’re inebriated, they feel sorry for you; it is them looking down upon you. It is only once the body starts to deteriorate and they start feeling the mental and physical problems manifesting in them that they realise their situation and look for help. Some alcoholics however, are fully aware of their situation but choose to drink as an escape from life’s challenges.

But what does this say about our society? Society and religion, out of a desire for order, have created a deep-rooted sense of guilt within us. It seems, on some level, we have failed as societies to make the experience of life worthwhile for many people, so they’re deviating to find their own worthwhile experiences. Shouldn’t we offer something much more powerful and experientially pleasing than alcohol? Something which leads to the general health and wellbeing of body, mind and emotion? Which can help deal with life's incessant challenges? This can be accomplished with Yoga.


The Yogi’s three steps to freedom from dependency

The nature of addiction is repetitiveness, and the quality of the addiction is the effect of the repetitiveness. Only when one suffers physical, mental or emotional pain due to an addiction, does one become aware of a problem. Before the suffering is experienced, alcohol is a solution. It is from this pain that awareness rises; it is from awareness, that the desire for change emanates. Without this desire for help, for change, there is no possibility of overcoming alcoholism, or any other addiction for that matter. So what is the primary aim for freedom from dependency through yoga? Raising one’s awareness.

The first step is to allow thoughts to manifest. When we let thoughts manifest they become weak; when we suppress thoughts, they gain strength. If we suppress a negative thought, we commit to an action, but when we observe a negative thought, over time, we become free from it. Even if thoughts of a criminal or evil nature arise, it is best to accept them, let them develop and gradually let them culminate into another thought. Sooner or later, any thought or fantasy, no matter how strong, will culminate into another thought process

The second step is developing the ability to patiently accept criticism from friends and family who often don't  know how to express their frustration about your situation, but want to help. 

Alcoholics usually possess some form of deep-rooted pain that they’re unaware of, which leads to alcohol abuse. It is necessary to self-examine the mind, and allow for repressed emotions, memories and fears to manifest into the conscious mind. This is the third step.


Yoga Programme for alcoholism:

Yoga recommends treating alcoholism gradually. It does not require abstinence, which is commonly predicated. Abstinence is an extremely difficult achievement due to an alcoholic's constant craving for alcohol - a problem that is further complicated by denial and guilt, as the drinker is often hesitant to accept alcohol dependency.

It is important, to gradually reduce the quantity and frequency of alcohol, one week at a time. If the change is too drastic, it will further aggravate the desire for consumption. If the desire itself isn't eliminated, through gradual understanding of ones own temperament, it will manifest elsewhere, creating yet another problem. Only two things must be committed to: the will to practice and the practice itself. 


Yoga Practices:


Practice the shatkarmas, in order to cleanse the body and rid oneself from all the accumulated toxins.


Pawanmukatasana and Surya Namaskar or the Sun Saluation. These practices will eliminate toxins from the joints, improve the digestive system, release energy blocks, purify the body and give it vigour.


Nadi Shodahana and Bhastrika pranayama. These practices will increase oxygen supply, purify the body from accumulated waste and toxins, alleviate the accumulation of phlegm, induce tranquility, clarity of thought, increase vitality and lower stress and anxiety.


Yoga Nidra. This practice will allow for the thoughts to be contained and the mind to relax. It induces complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation.