Mindfulness and Yoga in Marijuana Addiction Recovery

man in recovery doing yoga

Marijuana, known also as cannabis, can affect the brain and body in different ways because of its active chemical compounds. In particular, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the compounds producing the effects primarily associated with marijuana. While it’s less addictive than many other substances, marijuana can lead to both psychological and physical dependence.

As someone is working to recover from marijuana addiction, holistic approaches are often beneficial, including mindfulness and yoga. Mindfulness and yoga are separate concepts but often relate to one another in addiction recovery.

Marijuana’s Effects on the Body and Brain

When someone uses marijuana, physical effects can include:

  • Temporary increased heart rate.
  • Dry mouth and red eyes because of its effects on blood vessels and saliva production.
  • Appetite stimulation.
  • Smoking marijuana can lead to respiratory effects similar to smoking tobacco, like respiratory irritation. Long-term, heavy marijuana smoking can be associated with lung infections and respiratory issues like bronchitis.

Brain effects include:

  • Alterations in perception and mood, including euphoria or relaxation.
  • Impaired memory and cognition.
  • Problems with coordination and motor skills.

Long-term effects of chronic marijuana use include:

  • Addiction and dependence.
  • Cognitive impairment and a decline in IQ, primarily when it’s used regularly during adolescence.
  • An increased risk of psychiatric disorders. These include schizophrenia in people with pre-existing vulnerability.
  • Social and occupational impairment, including problems at work and in relationships.

Marijuana’s effects can vary greatly depending on genetics, the duration and frequency of use, dosage, how it’s used, and co-occurring health conditions.

Marijuana Addiction and Dependence

Marijuana addiction and dependence refer to marijuana use patterns that are problematic. Use is compulsive and includes uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors despite adverse effects.

Marijuana addiction is also called a cannabis use disorder. It’s a chronic condition that can include psychological dependence on marijuana. With marijuana addiction, a person may struggle to control their use to the point it interferes with relationships, daily functioning, and responsibilities.

Marijuana dependence is a separate but often co-occurring concept. With marijuana dependence, a person has a physiological reliance on the substance to function normally. Withdrawal symptoms may happen if a person tries to stop using marijuana and they’re dependent on it. Withdrawal symptoms can include irritability, decreased appetite, mood swings, anxiety, and insomnia.

As is true with other substance use disorders, marijuana addiction and dependence vary in severity. Some people may have mild symptoms that don’t significantly affect their functioning. Other people have severe symptoms that require professional treatment and intervention.

Marijuana addiction and dependence treatment can include behavioral therapies and counseling. It may be necessary to receive treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions, too.

The Role of Mindfulness in Marijuana Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Mindfulness is a practice to bring attention to the present moment, free from judgment. The goal of mindfulness is to be fully aware of feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment. Mindfulness techniques are used in addiction treatment and recovery because they can improve emotional regulation, self-awareness, and coping skills.

Specifically, the benefits of mindfulness in the treatment and recovery from marijuana addiction include:

  • Stress reduction. Mindfulness techniques like body scanning and deep breathing can help someone in recovery more effectively manage stress. Stress is a trigger for substance use and relapse.
  • Emotional regulation. Through mindfulness, it becomes possible to develop more awareness of emotions and see how they influence behavior. A person can use mindfulness to observe and accept their emotions without impulsive reactions or the use of substances to cope with negative feelings.
  • Craving management. Practicing mindfulness can help individuals recognize their cravings for marijuana or substances without acting on them immediately. Creating a space between cravings and the response becomes possible, facilitating healthier choices.
  • Self-compassion. Addiction often includes feelings of shame and guilt, but mindfulness encourages a sense of self-compassion and acceptance for building self-esteem and resilience in recovery.
  • Relapse prevention skills: There are mindfulness-based relapse prevention programs that integrate traditional strategies to identify triggers, cope with cravings, and develop healthy coping strategies.

In addiction treatment and recovery, mindfulness can promote overall well-being through relaxation, connection with oneself and others, and improved sleep quality.

Yoga In Marijuana Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines elements of meditation, physical postures, and breath control. Yoga can also include mindfulness techniques and has many of the same benefits.

For example, yoga promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and helps with emotional regulation. It can improve physical health and self-compassion, and for people participating in yoga classes, there are opportunities for social interaction and connection.

Yoga is a holistic approach to healing, addressing the intertwined relationship between the mind, body, and spirit.

Yoga in addiction treatment and recovery is a complementary therapy that enhances the effectiveness of traditional approaches. Through the integration of yoga into a marijuana treatment and recovery plan, an individual can gain tools to manage their cravings, reduce stress, and improve their overall health and wellness.

The Relationship Between Mindfulness and Yoga

Mindfulness and yoga are practices closely related to one another. They have distinct approaches but share common principles that help overcome marijuana addiction and recovery.

For example, mindfulness is an integral component of yoga practice. You work in yoga to cultivate mindful awareness of the connection between your mind and body.

Both mindfulness and yoga also emphasize the importance of breathwork. In yoga, breathing exercises are called pranayama, and they help regulate breathing and calm the mind. This promotes relaxation and reduces stress, helping with craving and trigger management.

Yoga practices encourage tuning into the body and becoming aware of emotions, tensions, and sensations that are happening internally. Heightened body awareness fosters mindfulness and helps with the recognition of mental and physical cues that could lead to substance use or relapse. When people learn to listen to their bodies without judgment, they can manage their discomfort and cravings without turning to marijuana.

Yoga and mindfulness are excellent holistic, complementary approaches to help begin a marijuana recovery journey, and we often integrate them along with traditional therapies in our treatment programs. If you’d like to learn more about marijuana addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, please reach out to San Diego Detox.