Using Breathwork for Addiction Recovery


When people think of addiction treatment, they most likely associate traditional treatment modalities with the process, such as individual and group therapy and medication-assisted therapy (MAT). However, a growing number of holistic-based treatment modalities are being used in facilities across the US to offer an alternative way of healing. One such holistic technique is breathwork, which has been highly successful in helping patients recover from addiction. You may be skeptical about how breathing can help in addiction recovery, but learning about this approach and how beneficial it is to recovery will change your mind. By learning more about breathwork and its healing properties, you may want to implement it into your own treatment plan.

What is Breathwork?

Breathwork is exactly what you would expect it to be based on its name. Using different breathing patterns, this holistic therapy technique helps those struggling with mental health issues or addiction find peace and make significant progress in their recovery. Breathwork can be used on its own or combined with other relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga. It can be used to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. It is significantly helpful in early recovery, but it can also be used as a relapse prevention technique down the road.

Types of Breathwork Approaches

There are various types of breathwork approaches that can be used to reap the benefits of this practice. It is worth trying out different kinds of breathwork to find which method works best for you and your recovery needs.

Common types of breathwork include:

  • Clarity Breathwork
  • Vivation
  • Shamanic Breathwork
  • Rebirthing
  • Holotropic Breathwork
  • Transformational Breath

What are the Benefits of Breathwork?

This holistic technique has several benefits that anyone can take advantage of through its utilization. However, the benefits are coined for their helpfulness in addiction recovery because it helps individuals work through difficult times and find ways to prevent relapse. Some of the more common benefits of breathwork include:

  • Reducing anxiety and stress
  • Helping manage anger
  • Alleviating depression
  • Releasing underlying distressing emotions
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Lessening grief

How is Breathwork Used in Addiction Recovery?

In addiction recovery, breathwork can help individuals become more self-aware, be more present, and work through difficult underlying thoughts and emotions that may be hindering their recovery. It can be used individually or within a group setting as patients are guided through various breathing exercises by a trained breathwork therapist. While utilizing this meditative practice, individuals consciously change their breathing to help reduce anxiety and stress.

Individuals recovering from addiction may have a hard time listening to their body; they spent so much time numbing its various sensations. Breathwork can help patients become aware of the mind-body connection, learning how to listen to physical and mental signals sent out. It also helps them become more self-aware, which allows them to listen better and understand what their inner thoughts and feelings are telling them. Self-awareness can aid in recovery as it helps the person be more aware of what they need in recovery and boosts their self-esteem. Rather than relying on others telling them what to do, they will be able to better communicate their needs, thoughts, and feelings.

Aside from the inner body connections that breathwork brings out, it can also teach individuals to be more aware of their surroundings and others. Awareness can help them improve interpersonal relationships and better understand how their actions may impact others. All of this is used to push the person forward into a successful recovery journey.

Practicing Breathwork for Recovery

It is recommended to first try breathwork under the guide of a trained breathwork therapist. However, you can practice some of the techniques on your own for stress reduction and facilitate better healing. Here, two types of breathwork practices will be described so you can try them on your own. By doing these exercises, you can begin reaping the benefits of breathwork now.

Continuous Circular Breathing

This method of breathwork involves using full, deep breaths without pauses; this means that there is a natural pause between each inhale and exhale. You are not purposely holding in the breath itself for a specified amount of time, such as in other methods. By continuously breathing in this manner, you are creating a circle of breath to help facilitate healing.

4-7-8 Breathing

Unlike continuous circular breathing, 4-7-8 breathing involves inhaling and retaining the breath for a specified time. It involves inhaling through your nose for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of seven, and exhaling completely through your mouth to a count of eight. You repeat this cycle three more times to complete the exercise.

Breathwork is a holistic therapy that is becoming more common in treatment facilities across the country to aid in the recovery process. It utilizes controlled breathing patterns to help facilitate stress reduction and further healing in recovery. Usually done under the guidance of a trained breathwork facilitator, you can use breathwork as a springboard to progress in your recovery journey. If you want to try breathwork for yourself, Lakehouse Recovery Center has your back. We offer a virtual intensive outpatient program (IOP), so you can participate in treatment and stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our program combines traditional treatment techniques with holistic approaches to give you the best chance at long-term recovery. We vow to provide you with individualized, top-of-the-line care. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (877) 762-3707. We want to welcome you to our community and give you a safe place to find healing. Welcome home.