Arizona man using yoga as a way to help with his drug addiction recovery

September is National Recovery Month, which is a way to promote the treatment and recovery efforts of tens of millions of people who struggle with substance abuse.

In the Valley, a man who conquered his addiction through yoga is using everything he's learned over the years to help others just like him.

Drug addiction started early for Jacon Daffner

Like many addicts, Jacob Daffner's decent into drugs started young.

"You know, I had a pretty dysfunctional adolescence growing up, childhood, and all that kind of led into addiction," said Daffner.

Growing up in Virginia, Daffner began experimenting as a way to mask his feelings.

"Started with like what a lot of people in recovery experience, which is kind of this, like, gradual progression of, you know, drinking beer, smoking pot and then slowly getting harder and harder with substances," said Daffner.

It got to a point where even the fear of dying did not faze Daffner.

"It was a dark place, and that idea of of maybe it's going to end wasn't scary, you know. It was almost a little bit of a relief," said Daffner.

At just 23 years old, and his future very much in doubt, Daffner headed west to Arizona for help. His demons, however, weren't far behind, and it led to him being kicked out of his treatment center.

"I didn't have an ID. Credit card. I didn't have a cell phone. I literally had a bag of clothes, and I was in Casa Grande, Arizona, 3,000 miles away from anybody I knew with nothing, and I just I remember that feeling of complete hopelessness and just broke down, and that was that was for me. That was, like, the bottom of the bottle," said Daffner.

Daffner had difficult start with yoga

With little left to give, Daffner channeled his hopelessness into a willingness to try just about anything, and that's when he discovered the Scottsdale Recovery Center. They provide a number of resources for other recovering addicts, but it was the yoga program that eventually grabbed Daffner's attention.

"I'd never, never tried that before. I kind of thought it was, like, hippie crap, and I gave it a shot," said Daffner. "At first, I definitely didn't enjoy it. I was, like, this is weird, and I don't know what these pose names are, and this is really hard, and this one really hurts, you know."

While his body might have been saying no, Daffner quickly realized his mind and his soul were saying something completely different.

"There's the physical piece that could help with pain relief, weight loss, cardiovascular health, strength. You know, you get your heart rate elevated, gets those endorphins in your brain firing up again, that mental piece of just being a little bit more present, calm, not living in anxiety, stress, fear, worry, and then that spiritual compound., and it's just kind of slowing down and connecting to to whatever you find to be spiritual for yourself," said Daffner.

People are using yoga as a form of recovery

On a summer day, Daffner's outdoor class at Scottsdale Recovery Center was packed, as dozens of people, some recovering addicts, use yoga as a form of recovery.

"Like that physical difference in their mental state, if that makes sense, is so powerful and it's like, I can, it makes that change that yoga offers, like tangible, like, you can just see with your eyes the difference it can have on somebody in recovery," said Daffner. "Doing something can be a lot easier than doing nothing, and the meditation that we end every class with is not only one of the more difficult aspects for most people that are new to yoga, but but also the most beneficial and why we offer it here. Like, being able to touch your toes isn't going to help your recovery, but being able to to be still and connected and calm for a few minutes, that could change your life."

Daffner says while yoga is a big part of his recovery, It's not the only part. He and other recovering addicts like him follow a multi-step program to keep them on the right path, including group therapy.

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