Yoga – new recovery tool for addicts

Yoga is being employed at 12 & 12, Inc., to help meet the organization’s goal of helping people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.

12 & 12, Inc., 6333 E. Skelly Drive, is one of the largest and most comprehensive residential treatment centers in northeastern Oklahoma and is funded by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Brad Collins, MHR, LDC, services analysis director, said that yoga is ancient in practice but a new 12 & 12 tool.

Yoga, a discipline focused on physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in 11th century India, will be part of the recently introduced MBRP program.

 Yoga gained prominence during the 20th century in the West.

Collins and Melanie Anderegg, 12 & 12, Inc. clinical director, attended a Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention Program in Seattle.

There they learned about an evidence-based research supported approach to treatment for alcoholics and drug addicts along with a more traditional yoga approach.

“We know helping people in recovery find a way to de-stress, to be more calm, inquisitive and self-supportive when negative feelings, emotions and thoughts occur in early recovery, will be better suited to find alternatives and drug use even though that has been habitual response,” Collins said.

“We have our usual treatment similar to other residential treatment centers. In this approach, we are primarily talking about residential treatment, the cognitive behavioral approach, client centered approach, process groups, individual counseling and things of that nature.

“We’re adding mindfulness based relapse prevention, through exercise and internal dialogue when someone is practicing yoga. We get the interactive peace and traditional treatment and the self-reflection piece in mindfulness along with the movement that is an evidence based research proven to those in recovery.”

Currently the MBRP program is being tried and outcomes will be collected during the next six months.

Then it will be time for the 12 & 12, Inc. staff to stand back and evaluate the results.

Incoming 12 & 12, Inc. patients have the opportunity to “opt in” and know what to expect through counselor interviews, Collins said. So far, 22 people have signed up. They also will have their primary counselor, group and education sessions and offerings traditionally offered to others.

“That’s not bad for a new offering, something off the beaten path, that people will warm up to,” Collins continued.

Even though measurable data is not yet available, Collins feels the percentage of folks admitted into the treatment program are finding it desirable to try new methods, which he sees as a positive thing.

Two major challenges face clients, he said.

First, it is the understanding they have a disease that impacts the mid-brain, the survival brain, the old part that is shared with other mammals. The individual goes to an automatic response and resorts to using drugs or alcohol as a safety when threatened.

Second, individuals learn to pause, not take action created by their automatic pilot. They learn to identify the actions and emotions without taking that immediate drink or drug use response. That’s really what the program is intended to do.

The person learns self-awareness, internal curiosity about thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations and how to react to them, especially when the survival brain becomes diseased by addiction.

In Seattle, Collins and Anderegg learned the initial step was the role of the patient followed by that of the clinician.

“We practiced what we learned as patients for 2 1/2 days,” he said. “As clinicians, we took turns guiding each other through the program.

We returned and selected folks for training to be the MBRP facilitators. We selected and hired experienced yoga instructors, those who are certified to teach at studios or have their own studio.”

Collins said he had a pretty good idea about the program and one of the pre-qualifications was his personal mediation practice.

“I am a person in long-term recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction myself,” he admitted. “I have been practicing meditation as a way of treating and helping my recovery for many years.”

He was familiar with the meditation part and the approaches as to how to allow the thoughts, sensations and feelings to occur.

Through the program, Collins learned how to manage his feelings, thoughts and urges without acting on them. He also learned how to get others to understand and practice it as well.

In life, things will happen through the course of natural events. The important thing, according to Collins, is to stay aware, stay willing to look at what comes up and take the opportunity to not automatically react to situations by using drugs and alcohol.

“Introducing MDBP and yoga was one of the programs I had in mind when I joined 12 & 12, Inc. as a services analyst director in 2013,” Collins said.

 

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