There are an estimated 140 million people in the world who are considered to be alcoholics. It is considered to be the #1 substance abuse problem in the world. Alcohol lowers the inhibitions and long term alcoholics are more prone to engage in dangerous behavior such as domestic violence, assaults, drinking and driving, etc. Less overt consequences to alcoholism are depression, loss of motivation, poor work performance, etc.
Many begin their alcohol use due to social influence and then continue their use because of the loss of inhibitions, stress management or just as an escape. There are healthy yogic alternatives to alcohol. The key is that the solutions must come from within the body and not from an external substance. After long term use, one becomes dependent on alcohol for things that we should have the capacity to be able to do on our own. Some can become so dependent on alcohol, that it is the only way they know how to have a social connection. When this happens, the identity gets split. It is really dangerous when the sober self is believed to be inferior to your drunk self.
Alcohol abuse has much to do with the Third Chakra, the chakra of personal power, as alcohol can make the weakest person feel empowered. It is a short term fix for a life that otherwise feels futile. When cutting off an alcoholic from their alcohol, it will feel like you are taking away their source of power. This powerless feeling is one of the first things a recovering alcoholic will have to face in their recovery and this isn’t easy.
Yogi Bhajan had a great quote when it comes to alcohol and drugs, “Drugs are not being taken for any other reason than that people cannot face their reality, yet drugs take them to non-reality. At that moment give them survival, that’s all. Every stimulant, every drug, every love, every relationship is based on affirmation of non-reality.”
As Yogi Bhajan says, one needs to face reality. There is a root cause to why a person drinks and by drinking, a person is only getting further from that truth. This reason could stem from a traumatic event, tough upbringing, poor sense of self, etc. Whatever the root cause, it may take years to discover, but continual focus and a modest daily practice will inch you closer and closer to the truth.
Here are some other things to consider on the path to recovery from alcoholism:
1. Taking Responsibility
One cannot take embark on the journey of recovery from alcoholism solely because someone else told them to. You must come to it on your own, if you don’t, there is no ownership over the process. When there is no ownership in the process, it will fail just like any dieting fads. Recovery must be built to last and to do so, there needs to be a big picture reason to taking on the journey. Why are you doing this? How will your life be better? You must always have the big picture in mind so that recovery will endure.
A yogic tool for developing responsibility and strengthen the sense of self are any kriyas that work on the navel/Third Chakra. Here are a few great kriyas that work on for the Third Chakra:
To Master Your Domain
Let the Liver Live
Also more intermediate students can try:
Relieve Inner Anger from Mastering the Self Vol 1
Typically when one decides to quit an addiction, they gravitate to another one. For many alcoholics, this is typically the case with coffee and junk food. This is because there is an underlying reason why a person drinks. You must not solely treat the alcoholism, but the addiction behind alcoholism. It may take years to discover this, but stay committed to your daily practice and keep your eyes on the big picture.
There is a great meditation recommended for working with addiction, called, “Medical Meditation for Habituation” in Serving the Infinite Vol. 2.
3. Dealing with Emotions & Stress
Anger and fear are typically the only emotions an alcoholic is used to feeling. If you started drinking at an early age like say 15, you have to understand that you will have the emotional maturity of a 15 year old. Alcohol puts your emotional maturity on ice and becoming sober is a thawing out process. This can be a frustrating process, but you are coming back to life. Typically the first year is the hardest because one is confronted with all the emotions they were attempting to escape.
There is a great meditation that works with balancing the emotions called, “Stress Relief and Clearing Emotions of the Past” and you can find it in the manual Physical Wisdom.
4. Starting a New Life:
This is one reality that many don’t want to accept and makes it hard to move on. We had friends and family members that connected with us over alcohol and drugs. To truly get any addict to quit, you must take them out of their element and put them in a new one. You need to start a new life and make newer and healthier friends. Alcohol is the common thread in many alcoholic relationships and without it, you will find that you don’t have as much in common with many of your old friends anymore. You must find a healthy lifestyle that supports your choices. There are many bumps in the road along the way. It hurts to loose lifetime friends. Remember, alcoholics hang out in bars, body builders hang out in gyms, vegetarians may go to organic grocery stores and yogis go to yoga classes. Go to places that have people who support your healthy lifestyle.
5. Make Healthy Choices:
Make healthy choices that support you. Try to not put yourself in situations that set you up for failure like going to the bar, etc. Healthy choices includes eating well, avoiding junk foods, practicing yoga & meditation, etc.
The contents of this article are not to be considered medical advice. This is only a yogic and energetic viewpoint. If you or someone you know suffers from a serious medical condition, you should consult with a doctor.