Addiction is a disease without a specific cure. Treatment involves managed care. Substance abuse ranks as a leading cause of sickness and death, and addiction itself is now recognized as a chronic disease that causes long-term changes in neuronal activity patterns.
Most addictive substances cause the brain to release hormones that elicit a feeling of pleasure and, at high doses, euphoria. Addiction occurs when an individual has abused a substance or substances to the point that the brain loses the capacity to naturally generate pleasure hormones, leaving the individual to rely on one or more substances to achieve a feeling of normalcy. In fact, nothing about an addicted brain is normal.
Āyurveda, as a holistic healthcare system, provides a complete maintenance approach to supporting sobriety with daily self-care practices and routines that promote physical rejuvenation and mental well-being and restore a normal physical state over time. Āyurvedic theory states that all humans naturally experience kama (“the desire for pleasure”) and that this longing and the wish to avoid pain are basic survival instincts shared by all organisms. Āyurveda also asserts that the attachment to pleasure and the avoidance of pain can lead to disease if pursued at any cost. Addiction is a case in point: The addict will sacrifice nearly everything to feel a high. In the deepest throes of addiction, the addict will sustain a dangerous lifestyle simply to find a feeling of normalcy.