Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is difficult, and therapy is a vital part of any treatment program. Find out why in this blog post.

Yoga for addiction treatment

Why Therapy Is Crucial in Treating Addiction?

The road to addiction recovery is a long one, and it needs constant work to become a success. Addiction therapy comes in all shapes and forms; the more traditional format of counseling and medical treatment and alternative treatments like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga.

For many years, these treatments were kept as a separate entity entirely, with most Western cultures focusing on the more traditional format. However, ‘alternative’ treatments that are largely used in Eastern cultures are now becoming more prominent in rehab centers across the world. 

The focus of addiction treatment has shifted to include a more holistic perspective, whereby the body, mind, and spirit are considered on the road to recovery. In this article, we will take a look at why therapy such as counseling is so imperative to addiction treatment and how more alternative treatments are benefitting addicts trying to stay sober.

How Does Traditional Therapy Help in Recovery?

Almost every drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in the world will base its treatment programs around one-on-one therapy sessions and group therapy. While this is not the only aspect of addiction treatment, it is important and here’s why:

Addiction Rarely Exists in Isolation

Many individuals that struggle with substance addiction also suffer from other mental health issues. These disorders could predate the addiction and could be one reason why the individual started their addiction journey. There is an extremely high addiction rate in people with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and other mental health disorders. Drugs and alcohol are used as coping mechanisms for these individuals.  

Therapy is an important opportunity to help diagnose these disorders and treat the behavioral issues associated with them. Through therapy, addicts and medical professionals work through and explore the factors that led to the addiction and how best to work through them.

Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Most addicts never intended on ending up where they are. They didn’t want to become addicts but used drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for triggers and stressors. Eventually, addicts rely on these substances whenever they encounter these issues.

What therapy does, is give recovering addicts the tools that they need to manage these triggers without resorting to drugs and alcohol. Alternative behaviors like exercise, journaling, meditation, and mindfulness are explored, and the most successful can be used as healthy coping mechanisms in times of stress.

Increased Self-Awareness

Addicts have to set personal goals and boundaries to stay sober, and therapy works through the feelings, needs, and motivations needed to put these in place. Honest introspection and exploration are key to staying sober, and therapy offers addicts a safe space to work out their strengths and weaknesses. Looking at one’s own flaws and core can be a painful process, and therapy enables this to happen in the most constructive environment without stressors.

Keeping Addicts Accountable

A key aspect of recovery is keeping addicts accountable for their actions. Without the support and regular check-ins that therapy provides, addicts would not have to tell anyone about what is going on in their lives. Intensive, ongoing therapy helps to promote change in behaviors, and being accountable for your actions decreases the risk of relapse significantly.

Addiction and Eastern treatments

Western rehab centers are recognizing the effectiveness of alternative treatments more significantly than ever before. Yoga and meditation are the two most commonly used alternative treatments that are now fully incorporated into traditional treatment programs worldwide.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation work in much the same way that therapy helps individuals with their mental processes. Through intentional and non-judgemental focus, addicts focus on things happening right now and stay in the present. Guided meditation helps individuals to focus on the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that they are experiencing.

Many addicts have become used to living on autopilot, and meditation pushes them to experience and manage all of the emotions that they would normally suppress. When an addict takes their substance of choice, their body is flooded with dopamine, which results in euphoria. Once the effects of this wear off, their dopamine levels drop dangerously, and they have to retake the substance.

The John F. Kennedy Institute published a study that showed an individual’s dopamine level increases by up to 65% during meditation. This healthy release of dopamine in the system rewards the brain and makes it less likely to relapse.


Despite its gentle nature, the physicality of yoga can be quite intense. The body releases endorphins during exercise and gives you a natural high. Much like meditation, yoga is also an exercise in mindfulness, as it allows addicts to view and sit with emotions in a more distanced manner, feeling them and managing them but not acting on them.

Obviously, yoga is also excellent for the body. It promotes improved mobility and strength, which is important for addicts that, most likely, have not looked after their body in many years. Yoga makes it easier for addicts to control behavioral cravings and urges; it helps individuals work through stress-related thoughts and emotions healthily.

The best addiction treatment plans incorporate traditional therapies like counseling while also recognizing the importance of more ‘alternative’ Eastern culture treatments. A holistic recovery program that uses both approaches and more will be the most successful in aligning addicts’ bodies, minds, and spirits for a successful recovery.


  1. Dr. Thomas Maples Reply

    This was a great look into the efficacy of combining treatment models of East and West to treat the whole, not the part or diagnosis of the person. Great article, and I look forward to reading more of your work.

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