Drug and Alcohol Addiction


Using Yoga to Promote a Lasting RecoveryWhile yoga is far from a cure for drug and alcohol addiction, a regular yoga practice can help promote a lasting recovery. Yoga is especially popular with those searching for a holistic way to address addiction treatment because it enhances the mind, body, and spirit.

Yoga Is for Everyone

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be exceptionally flexible, it’s never too late to begin learning more about the benefits of yoga. In addition to yoga classes that designed to be part of addiction treatment, there are yoga programs targeted to diverse groups such as troubled at-risk teens, inmates in correctional facilities, military veterans, and nursing home residents.

Benefits of Yoga in Addiction Recovery

People turn to yoga for many different reasons, but some of the benefits it offers for those in recovery include:

  • Replacing artificial highs with a natural alternative. Yoga gives you a natural high by building your connection to your inner self. Instead of chasing external pleasures from drugs and alcohol, a regular yoga practice can teach you to be content with your internal wisdom and awareness.
  • Enhancing mental control. Yoga’s focus on meditation is essentially strength training for the mind. When you feel in control of your thoughts, your cravings will diminish.
  • Decreasing stress and anxiety. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the stress they feel in their personal and professional lives. Doing yoga to unwind at the end of a tough day helps you stay on track with your recovery.
  • Providing a way to deal with past trauma. If your addiction began as a way to cope with childhood trauma, yoga can help you develop the mental clarity needed to process your feelings and find a sense of inner peace.
  • Relieving chronic pain. If your addiction began as a way to cope with chronic pain, yoga is an all-natural way to keep your pain levels in check while enhancing your overall mobility.
  • Providing a sense of community. If you choose to practice yoga in a studio environment or to attend special workshops, you’ll be able to connect with a community of like-minded individuals who share your passion for wellness. Building social ties is scientifically proven to diminish the risk of relapse after addiction treatment.

Creating a Yoga Practice to Promote Addiction Recovery

It’s best to begin your study of yoga under the guidance of a qualified teacher who can adjust your form and suggest modifications to accommodate any physical limitations you might have. People who are overweight, have joint problems, or are recovering from recent injuries can still do yoga, but may need to modify poses to make them more accessible.

Yoga classes are typically 45 to 90 minutes in length and most studios offer free or discounted trial classes for newcomers. Do not get discouraged if you struggle with poses or find your mind wandering. Learning yoga requires practice and patience, just like mastering any other new skill.

Once you understand the basics, you can easily develop your own home yoga practice. All you need to create a home yoga studio is your yoga mat, comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely, and an open yet quiet place to practice. Some people like to play soothing music or diffuse calming essential oils during their practice, but this is not necessary.

The following beginner level poses are often incorporated into a home yoga practice to help promote a lasting recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.  

  • Balasana (Child’s Pose) releases tension and mental fatigue while promoting a feeling of safety.

  • Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) stretches the lower back and hamstrings while promoting a feeling of calm.
  • Apanasana (Little Boat Hugging Knees) releases pressure in the lower back.

  • Baddha Konasana (Butterfly) is done with deep breathing exercises to open the hips and pelvis.

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) promotes grounding and stress relief as it releases tension from the entire body.

  • Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I) promotes feelings of mental strength and focus as it teaches to you stay present in the moment even when faced with discomfort.

  • Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose) is a soothing pose often recommended as a way to promote a more restful sleep.

  • Savasana (Corpse Pose) is a relaxation pose traditionally done at the end of a practice to provide a sense of calm that replenishes both the mind and body.

By Dana Hinders

Causes of alcoholism

Many of the people who seek alcohol addiction treatment have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or siblings who’ve also struggled with alcohol abuse. However, alcoholism isn’t inherited in the same way you’d inherit blue eyes and blond hair. Addiction develops as the result of a complex interaction between genes and environmental risk factors.

Genes That Affect Alcoholism Risk

There is no single gene responsible for developing alcoholism. However, research does suggest that certain combinations of genes are responsible for increasing the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. For example:

Personality traits: Genes linked to personality traits such as impulsivity and disinhibition are also associated with an increase in substance abuse disorders.

Predisposition to mental health disorders: The same genes that are linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders are also associated with an increased risk of alcohol abuse, but this is often attributed to the tendency of people suffering from mental health disorders to try to self-medicate.

Changes in how alcohol affects the body: Some gene combinations create changes in the body’s dopamine reward systems, leaving people to experience greater levels of reinforcement or reward from alcohol use and thus increasing the likelihood of problem drinking.

Race: Genetic variants in people of different races have been linked to an increase in alcoholism, with Native Americans have the highest number of alcohol use severity phenotypes.

Although the average person doesn’t have access to sophisticated genetic testing, you can reasonably determine your genetic risk for alcoholism by counting the number of blood relatives who also suffer from alcohol use disorders.

Environmental Factors That Affect Alcoholism Risk

Certain environmental factors can increase the risk of a child developing an alcohol use problem, even if there are minimal genetic risk factors at work. For example:

Societal acceptance: Regularly seeing television shows, movies, and music that portray drinking as a harmless way to have fun normalize the behavior.

Parental modeling: Seeing parents deal with everyday stress by becoming intoxicated sets this behavior up as normal in child’s mind.

Peer pressure: Friends who encourage regular drinking promote a pattern of overindulgence.
Exposure to outside trauma: Children who are exposed to verbal, physical, or sexual abuse are more likely to experiment with alcohol.

Age at first drink: Multiple studies have shown that the younger you are when you take your first drink, the more difficulty you’ll have regulating your alcohol intake. These studies proved instrumental in setting the legal drinking age to 21.

Genetics Aren’t Destiny

When discussing the causes of alcoholism, it’s important to keep in mind that many diseases are caused by a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. For example, someone with a parent, grandparent, or sibling who suffers from Type 2 diabetes is considered genetically predisposed to the condition. Even with this added risk, a commitment to eating a well-balanced diet and getting regular physical exercise can drastically reduce their risk of becoming diabetic. Lifestyle changes made after a diagnosis can also be beneficial, sometimes creating enough of a change in blood sugar levels to allow diabetics to reduce or discontinue their insulin all together.

Children of alcoholic parents have two to four times the risk of becoming alcoholics as adults. This risk factor remains even in cases where the child is adopted and raised in a family where neither parent has an alcohol use disorder. However, despite this increased genetic risk, less than half of children with an alcoholic parent grow up to abuse alcohol themselves. Some protective environmental factors that can prevent alcohol abuse include:

Receiving education on the negative effects of alcohol use: Having a full understanding of genetic risk factors and the health effects of alcohol abuse is associated with lower levels of problem drinking.

Developing strong social connections to family and friends: Feeling loved and supported by the people around you makes you less likely to want to turn to alcohol for comfort.

Developing positive ways to cope with stress: People who use exercise, meditation, music, art therapy, or other stress-relieving activities to handle everyday pressures are less likely to abuse alcohol.
Seeking help for mental health disorders: Counseling and support from a trained mental health professional reduces the desire to self-medicate with alcohol.

You can’t control your genetic makeup, but genetics alone won’t determine your fate. If you’re ready to break the cycle of addiction, help is available. St. Joseph Institute’s addiction treatment facility can address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues underlying your alcohol abuse and set you on the path to a lasting recovery.

By Dana Hinders

 

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website.

man using computer

Job hunting is never an easy process, but people in recovery face some distinct challenges. From the need for a flexible schedule to explaining a spotty work history, landing a new position while in recovery will require careful planning and preparation.

Daniel Krasner, Summit Behavioral Healthcare’s Assistant Vice President of National Business Development, has a unique perspective on the post-recovery job search. He launched his own successful career after receiving addiction treatment and has helped fill multiple marketing and sales-related positions.

Recently, Krasner volunteered to share some advice for job seekers in recovery.

1. Don’t Share Too Early in the Process
Krasner believes your recovery shouldn’t be mentioned in your resume or cover letter. Employers only need information that’s relevant to your ability to perform specific job duties.

“I look at addiction as a disease, like diabetes,” Krasner said. “Just as you wouldn’t immediately tell a potential employer that you’re a diabetic, you don’t need to mention that you’re in recovery until an offer is on the table. It’s not necessarily something you need to share until it becomes relevant to the job at hand.”

2. Decide How Much You’re Comfortable Disclosing
Seeking addiction treatment is nothing to be ashamed of, but people in recovery have different levels of comfort when discussing their sobriety with others. To a large extent, how much you share is a matter of personal preference.

“Everyone is different as far as their willingness to disclose,” Krasner said. “You can come right out and say you were in recovery or you can simply say you had a medical issue that needed to be addressed. If you’re still in treatment or at a halfway house, you might need to provide more detail than someone with a few years of sobriety simply because you might need to leave early for meetings. If you’ve been sober for several years and it won’t affect your job performance, a full disclosure is less important.”

3. Be Honest
Wanting to protect your privacy is understandable, but it’s vitally important that you tell the truth when asked. Although a potential employer isn’t entitled to know every detail about your addiction treatment, the issue becomes relevant if you have a criminal record from your addiction or were terminated for addiction-related performance issues. Lying about your background will lead to automatic termination for most employers, regardless of whether you’re fudging your educational credentials or omitting the fact that you have a DUI and a possession charge on your record.

Owning up to your past isn’t easy, but Krasner points out that the best way to get a job is to help an employer see that you have the maturity to use past mistakes as an opportunity for growth. “You have to go into the process assuming that they will call your past employer and conduct a background check,” Krasner said. “Be honest about the mistakes that you’ve made, but show that you’ve changed since then.”

If you’re worried that you’ll get tongue-tied when asked about a specific issue on your resume, write up a detailed response beforehand and practice it with a friend or your sponsor. “God didn’t carry you this far to see you fall,” Krasner said. “Lean on your support network and practice your interviewing skills to calm your nerves and boost your confidence.”

4. Be Open to Feedback
Rejection is unfortunately part of the job search. This can be hard for someone in recovery, as it may trigger feelings of being not good enough or unworthy of success. However, successful job seekers are those who can turn rejection into a new opportunity.

“If you’re getting interviews but no job offers, ask for feedback on areas you need to improve,” Krasner said. “You may also want to take a deep hard look at your resume. To be effective, it needs to portray your background honestly but positively and be targeted towards the specific job position.”

5. Be Willing to Start Small
When it comes to your post-recovery career, you can’t expect to land your dream job immediately. Change takes time, so patience is a virtue. Treat your job search like a full-time job, be strategic, and stay confident in the belief that you’ll eventually find a position that’s right for you.

“It’s always easier to get a job if you already have a job,” Krasner said. “You may have to humble yourself somewhat to get your foot in the door, especially if your professional reputation suffered due to your addiction. This is a consequence of the choices you’ve made. Take what you can get, but use the opportunity as a steppingstone to something better.”

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website.

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