This is Nigel Ford's story about overcoming his drug addition with the help of a disciplined yoga practice. He has now fully recovered from his past addiction and continues on his yogi journey. He has left the part of him that thought he needs drugs in his past. Working as a mentor for addicts he now uses his experience and mental strength to help others to overcome their addictions. 

How Yoga Helped Save Me From Addiction

Addiction is no easy struggle. A lot of people have their lives claimed by the dangerous nature of drug addiction, and I’m glad that I can count myself among those who managed to escape from the grip of drug abuse. In part, I have the practices of yoga and meditation to thank for that.

In this article, I’m going to quickly outline how these two spiritual practices helped get me on the right track. Hopefully you can take this information and apply it to your life or the lives of those that you care about.

Yoga - an Ancient Healing Force far More Powerful Than Drugs

I fell into my addiction the same way that many people did. I knew for a long time that there was something ‘more’ to my life, but I didn’t know where to find it. During the emotional turmoil that was high school, I first tried experimenting with drugs.

I know now that these drugs didn’t answer my question. They didn’t bring me to a place of higher knowledge or spiritual understanding, but they seemed to fill some sort of void. At the time, that felt like the answer, because it took away from that dark spot that I didn’t yet know how to fill.

After being addicted to various drugs for nearly a decade, finally cresting with a heroin habit that cost me my house, my friends, and my lover, something else began to creep in to my life though. That something was a connection to the Source, to my soul, and to the ‘more’ or ‘missing’ parts of reality that most of us are looking for.

This happened very, very slowly. There was more than a year between my first yoga class and my second one. The real turning point for me, I believe, was when I had spent three or four days without drugs. I was going through withdrawal - mild, by the fourth day, but still present - and I was encouraged to take a morning yoga class with my roommate.

The first ten or twenty minutes of the class weren’t overly enjoyable, but as I got more into the rhythm and more mindful I found myself enjoying it. It wasn’t until after the class, when I was very elated, that it occured to me that I hadn’t truly enjoyed anything without the use of drugs in many years.

Replacing My Addiction With Yoga

Unfortunately, I relapsed right after that class.

But yoga and meditation weren’t done with me, yet. I noticed over the next couple years that yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices - however infrequently I did them - were the only activities that were powerful enough to penetrate through my hazy, drug-addled reality. The more I did yoga, the more I realized that the feeling provided by a good yoga routine were more powerful than the feelings I got from doing heroin. More subtle, perhaps, but more powerful.

And these feelings didn’t require that I went to a drug dealer. They didn’t require that I spent money. All that I needed to unlock these feelings was myself.

The more that this undeniable reality presented itself to me, the less I felt compelled to use drugs. I became more aware of the negative aspects that my addiction was causing, which allowed the alternative - a holistic, spiritual life - to become more appealing. One day, I simply decided that I’d had enough.

The healing process

Certainly, during the withdrawal phase, I wasn’t able to do a lot of yoga. However, after I’d gained some energy back, the only thing that could really keep me on track was a regular routine involving lots of yoga and meditation.

These practices are phenomenal for helping an individual realign themselves and figure out what they want to get out of life. If you’re struggling with anything - an addiction, a stressful relationship, a bad job - yoga and meditation can be the keys that you need to find an answer or a solution to your problem.

How to Use Yoga to Stop an Addiction

When you think about what you can do to overcome an addiction, typically the first things that come to mind are rehabilitation or psychological assistance. One vastly overlooked component that has helped many people through addiction is yoga.

While doing a couple sun salutations in the morning certainly isn’t going to completely kick an addictive habit, it can be enough to set you on to the path to addiction. Part of the reason for this is that yoga connects you, spiritually and mentally, to a force that’s more powerful than the force behind your addiction.

This force is capable of both energising and relaxing you. It’s capable of calming the mind, while stimulating a connection to a power greater than yourself that leads to insights and revelations. It’s capable of easing aches and pains in your body and getting you ready to exert yourself for exercise.

These are all things that people use drugs for. The difference between using drugs and using yoga is that you don’t need to go out and see your dealer to start using yoga. All of the same benefits that you experience when you use drugs (or at least, the benefits that you experienced at the beginning of your habit, before it evolved into a daily chore of picking up drugs just so you can feel normal) are available to you right now, and you don’t need to go anywhere or pick anything up to get them.

For many, the use of yoga for help with addiction is a gradual process. It starts out slowly, with the recognition that doing yoga can provide another, subtler level of good feeling - even when you’re high. As you continue doing yoga, you’ll begin to recognise how powerful this force must be if it’s able to make a difference to how you feel even after you’ve been using drugs.

As you continue to grow familiar with yoga, and perhaps meditation or other practices closely associated with it, you’ll probably begin to recognise that the feeling these activities provides is, in a way, better than the feelings you get when you’re high.

Yoga might not be the only thing that helps you on your path to recovery, but it’s certainly something that you should consider. It’s a viable tool that has helped many people on many walks of life, and the likelihood is that it can help you, as well. Many people are able to sober up without using yoga, but one must wonder - wouldn’t it have been easier for them if they had this relaxing practice to rely on in times of stress?

Nigel Ford