Although she was intelligent and appealing, she could not keep a job or form any friendships. Her psychiatrist recommended the Sudarshan Kriya Yoga breathing course. The first time Lenore took the course, she opened up quickly in the safe and welcoming atmosphere. After confiding some details of her life to the group, she became terrified because she had allowed herself to trust other participants. She fled from the course, started drinking, and became despondent. Lenore and her psychiatrist realized that she needed to go more slowly. She responded well to talking with her psychiatrist and the yoga teacher about ways to proceed more slowly. First she was taught basic Ujjayi breathing.
The calming effect enabled Lenore to begin to feel better. After several months of practicing Ujjayi for 10 minutes twice a day, Lenore felt ready to try the SKY course again. Her yoga teacher and her psychiatrist worked out a plan to help Lenore keep herself from opening up too quickly. With better preparation, Lenore responded well. She described the breathing as both gently energizing and soothing, The breathing gives me a kind of uplift a high, but I also feel more balance, calmer, and more in control so take better care of myself. After the breathing I have some hope and I am able to trust people and myself more. Today, Lenore is attending school, holding down a job, taking medications an atypical antipsychotic and an antidepressant as prescribed, continuing cognitive behavioral therapy, and making friends. She is no longer tormented by traumatic memories or flashbacks.
Although Lenore participated in Alcoholics Anonymous, she had never achieved a year of abstinence before. After completing the yoga course she was able to exceed a year of sobriety. Some patients with severe emotional trauma may initially feel overwhelmed in the group experience or during yoga breathing. However, as in this case, collaboration between the psychiatrist and the yoga teacher was the key to supporting the patient with more preparation, encouragement and some technical modifications. Both the patient and her psychiatrist attribute the marked improvements in her emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal functioning to the addition of the SKY course and daily breath practices to her treatment regimen of medications and cognitive behavioral therapy. Religious and spiritual programs have been widely used in the treatment of substance abuse. Yoga programs have been used in substance abuse treatment in India for many years Nespor, 2000. Much of this work is published in Indian language publications or in documents from Indian religious institutions.
These studies may not meet modern methodological and reporting standards. Western readers may consider such studies to be biased. While we can continue to wonder to what extent the benefits of such programs are due to their spiritual, emotional, philosophical, or physical practices, the controlled clinical studies beginning to appear and the neurophysiological studies of yoga practices may lead us to better understand the synergistic interplay of these important components. A small number of studies have documented benefits of herbs and nutrients in the treatment of substance abuse disorders. Individuals who abuse substances often have poor nutritional status and comorbid anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, cognitive impairments, ADD, and traumatic brain injury. Herbs and nutrients are particularly appropriate in substance abusers because they circumvent the tendency for abuse and dependence associated with prescription medications, they tend to be lower in side effects, and they put less burden on liver metabolism compared to many prescription medications, particularly in patients who may have reduced liver reserves due to abuse-related liver diseases alcoholic cirrhosis, hepatitis, HIV. Vitamins and cognitive enhancers can help to improve brain function that may be compromised by years of substance abuse, poor nutrition, and traumatic brain injuries see Post 4 for a discussion of cognitive enhancers. Vitamin B1 thiamine Vitamin B1 thiamine deficiency is known to be associated with chronic alcohol consumption.
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