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Substance use disorder (SUD), also known as addiction, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a complex, chronic brain disorder. The Mayo Clinic explains addiction as a disease “that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication” without regard for consequence. An individual struggling with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her substance cravings above all else, which can wreak havoc in all areas of his or her life. The recovery process from substance abuse and/ or addiction is entirely personal, and it will be directly informed by one’s personality, mental health, and emotional needs. Nevertheless, learning effective strategies to manage emotional, psychological, and/ or physical pain without the use of drugs and/ or alcohol is fundamental to one’s long-term recovery. Scientific research has proven that humans store memories, experience, and emotions on a cellular level. As such, there are a variety of holistic approaches that support the recovery process, including breathwork practices. 

What Is Breathwork?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines breathwork as “conscious, controlled breathing done especially for relaxation, meditation, or therapeutic purposes.” It is a hypernym that encompasses a wide range of breathing exercises designed to enhance physical, spiritual, and mental health. The goal of breathwork is to help an individual achieve a greater sense of self-awareness and trust in his or her capacity for self-healing. Common breathing exercises that are useful for sobriety may include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • Alternate nostril breathing: entails breathing through an alternate nostril, with each separate breath. It is used to relieve mental unrest and promote physical and mental balance.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing: also called abdominal breathing or deep breathing, entails focusing on the stomach area when breathing, instead of the chest to encourage full oxygen exchange. Abdominal breathing calms the nervous system, increases oxygen to the heart, and relieves anxiety.
  • Lion’s Breath: entails exhaling through an open mouth, with tongue hanging out, and making a noise while breathing out. Lion’s breath stimulates the throat and upper chest, and can improve circulation, eliminate toxins, and alleviate stress. 
  • Ujjayi Breath: entails taking long, deep breaths and exhaling slowly through the nose while constricting the muscles in the back of the throat to elicit a vibratory noise. It promotes relaxation by soothing the nervous system. 

Deliberately changing the pattern of breathing can have various beneficial effects. Research has found breathing techniques can effectively help with relaxation, stress management, control of psychophysiological states, and improve organ function, all of which are integral to maintaining sobriety.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com