Addiction is a bitch. I've been it's bitch for many years. Growing up in the booze laden State of Wisconsin, I became conditioned to binge drink alcohol. Honestly, I hate the taste of alcohol and never cared for it beyond the high it would give me. It worked great, until it stopped working.
So, fast forward a couple of decades and multiple attempt at getting sober and I can say that there is something detrimentally wrong with the way addiction is perceived. Did you know that over ninety-five percent of the recovery programs in the United States are twelve step programs? I was lucky enough not to have my addiction get me to the point of serious physical health issues.
In my opinion, I think it's time that we stop viewing addiction as some sort of spiritual weakness and look to what science had told us for years. Addiction is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain and should be treated like any other physical ailment. Our prisons are overflowing with prisoners incarcerated around failed attempt to control the supply, instead of treating the cause of demand. Ok, I'll stop ranting.
So what does this have to do with Yoga? Well, through the perspective of Yoga, addiction is not a spiritual issue more than any other Samskara that we may have to deal with. In my humble opinion, I think the most important factor in Yoga is it's power to reveal things in the psyche and allow you to transcend them. If I did not have my addictions, I would have never become involved in Yoga. I cannot say that it is solely responsible for my sobriety though. That took a lot of self effort and commitment.
Generally speaking, addiction starts off with getting a taste of altered consciousness. It's the desire to feel something other than what we are experiencing at the time. So, here is the critical juncture that people face: Either we do not care for the experience, or we get trapped in the never ending quest to re-experience that novelty. I think novelty was built into material existence so that, at some point, we will pursue something outside ourselves. It's part of the trap.
If you have an addiction, stop hiding in the shadows and get treated. Secondly, don't be embarrassed if you do. If you do not, go ahead and imbibe, gamble and smoke to your hearts content. My baggage ain't your problem. Hey, maybe I'll see you on this side of the fence someday.