◀ All Blog Posts

Abstract & Introduction: TCTSY for Substance Use Disorders (Part One)

By Erin Finck

SAT MAR 20, 2021


In this project, I will review clinical research that has looked at the incidence of trauma and the prevalence of substance abuse, from which, one might consider substance use a symptom of longitudinal, relational trauma. We will look at the changes in the brain that take place after one has experienced lifetime trauma, the changes in the brain that take place after one has repeatedly used substances for a substantial period of time, and then compare these adverse changes with the evidence that shows us that yoga can have positive impacts on the very same regions of the brain that were affected by trauma and substance use. We will explain how a bottom up (body-based) approach to the treatment of trauma and substance use may be necessary for top down (treatments that involve talk therapy and processing of emotions and experiences) approaches to be fully effective.


Yoga is one of those concepts that is difficult to define in terms of language, which is limited in nature by the sheer use of words. Words are subjective to the person who is hearing or using the word. Yoga might mean one thing to one person and something completely different to another. Yoga is a subjective experience in and of itself, as one person might have a completely different experience than the practitioner right next to them. They might have a different experience from one week to the next. It isn’t a cerebral experience, it is a sensory, physical, spiritual, embodied, present-moment experience. Yoga is an experience of being. There are no words.

Some psychological conditions, substance use included, can’t be explained with words alone. Certain psychological states are, too, subjective states of being. I think the Buddha explained this particularly well during the sermon he provided in China around a thousand years ago where he stood before his disciples holding up a freshly picked lotus flower, muddy roots still intact, and said nothing. Not one word. But the disciples smiled, understanding, without words.

How can we possibly communicate this phenomenon with language? How can we apply the scientific method, an analytical, operational process, to a way of being? How do we account for the abstract psychological, emotional, and spiritual with concrete data? How do we put a subjective experience into an objective analysis? So much of our evidence is anecdotal, our data qualitative, and our method experiential.

I do believe external evaluations of treatments should include an internal, intuitive understanding of the experience of being is necessary if we are to find a way to truly, holistically approach the process of healing and recovery.

This is Part One of a Six Part Series.

Part Two

Copyright © 2020 Erin Finck. All Rights Reserved.

Photo by @marcobian