Treating addictions with Ayurveda places the importance of paying attention to all aspects of ones lifestyle in order to maintain good health both mentally and physically. From the perspective of Ayurveda an addiction is a disease in which a person experiences dis-ease. Ayurveda allows us to understand the importance of balance in body, mind and soul/spirit.
There are many factors throughout ones life that can disrupt this balance such as loss of a loved one, an accident, illness, depression or losing ones job which can lead to addictive behavior. There are many, many factors which can lead to imbalance in any persons state of being. Each one of us is different, what may seem like a small problem to one may be a mammoth problem to someone else.
Addiction is a neurological condition, the person afflicted with this disease no more wants to be an alcoholic or drug addict than a person who has diabetes, he often leads a tormented life depending on his degree of addiction. When the addiction controls his life many neurological changes take place, he is driven to pursue his drug of choice regardless of the devastating consequences he experiences such as loss of friends, family and health. Bearing this in mind it would seem prudent to treat this person with a multi faceted approach. Treating addictions with Ayurveda treats the whole person, mind, body and soul. For a list of Ayurveda resources and practitioners
The treatment of alcoholism and addictions in the West is usually treated with powerful drugs such as anti psychotics, with the view that this person only has a mental problem, and there is no doubt that addictions do lead to mental problems. These drugs then add to his addictions and do not treat the root cause which led to the addiction in the first place. In many cases the underlying behavior which leads to an addiction is often ignored. An Ayurvedic approach to addiction looks at the mental as well as the physical and spiritual and seeks to encourage a long lasting state of balance to the body, mind and soul that will help reduce the tendency to relapse. Ayurvedic formulations are usually multi purpose, they are based on the concept that a combination provides synergistic therapeutic effects and eliminates adverse effects.
Treating Addictions with Ayurveda
Ayhurveda recognises that there are three basic types of energy that each one of us possesses and as there is no translation in English, the Sanscit words are used in Ayurveda to describe the three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha. Vata is the energy of movement, pitta the energy of metabolism and digestion, and kapha the energy of structure and lubrication. In Ayurveda the cause of disease is associated with a lack of proper cellular function due to a deficiency or excess of pitta, kapha and vata.
The three dosha’s and how they relate to addictions
The vata dosha with qualities of wind has the ability of driving the most addictive personality. It is thought that the majority of people with addictions has vata as a primary imbalance. Those whose doshas are predominately vata are changeable and often restless. This dosha is the most likely to become addicted and also the most easily harmed by their addictions. They are more likely to be attracted to any type of stimulant which has an adverse affect on the adrenal glands and increases the tendency for dehydration. These vata dominant people are often fearful and treatment should involve creativity, yoga, karma yoga for healing and the 12 step program.
The pita dosha is associated with fire and water those those whose doshas are pitta dominant can be perfectionists or be too intense, they may fear failure and crave success. Smoking, sugar and alcohol are some of the addictions these people indulge in. They have a desire to control thus anorhexia, bulimia and overexercising can plague these people. Pittas who are to intense can become addicted to substances and behaviors that increase their intensity, this increases their heat and fire, affecting the eyes and the liver. Pittas benefit from the 12 step program, they benefit from cultivating compassion. Raja yoga will beneift these types.
The kapha dosha is related to earth and water, this type can be co-dependent as they resist change. The earthy nature of kapha resists and fears change, they can be manipulative and one of the most common addictions of this type can be overeating. when this dosha is out of balance it can lead to high blood sugar, weight gain, and deperession. They need to practice detatchment. They should be encouraged to recognise a healthy way of loving through the practice of bhakti the yoga of devotion combined with hatha yoga.
The Five Elements in relation to Addiction
|Sense||Smell and the nose||Taste and the tongue||Sight and the eyes||Touch and the hands||Sound and the ears|
|Damaged By||Snorting drugs, sniffing glue and smoking||Overeating, alcoholism or an addiction to hyper-sweet foods such as soft drinks||Computer games, internet, pornography, disturbing/violent scenes on TV or movies||Physical violence, seeking adrenaline rushes through extreme sports or sexually addictive behaviors||Negative thoughts, verbal abuse and abuse of others and the self|
|Remedies Include||Neti and nasya (nose drops), pranayuama and aromatherapy||Fresh, sweet fruits, warm spiced milk, moderate use of natural sweetners like honey rather than refined sugars||Candles, color therapy and hanging inspirational art on the walls or pictures of spiritual leaders such as Ghandhi or the Dalai Lama, wearing or viewing the color gold||Therapeutic massage, yoga asana, (posture) practice, taking care of pets, giving and receiving loving hugs||Repetition of mantra (sacred sound of prayer), healing kirtan (call-and-response chanting) and silence (silent retreats).|