4. Is Holotropic Breathwork addictive?

We have certainly seen some people seem to get hooked on Holotropic Breathwork. But we have to be careful here. Many people come to Holotropic Breathwork as a last resort, or when they are in a psycho-spiritual crisis. In such cases, an intensive period of inner work is not just desired but essential for them. They may want or need to give their lives over to their inner process for a period of time. For other people, a holotropic workshop may be the only place they have found in which they can truly be themselves, and where they can give expression to some very big energies they have been struggling with. Then there are other people, like myself, who consider Holotropic Breathwork a spiritual practice, and try to do it at least a couple of times a year, much as one would a meditation retreat. But although I have seen plenty of people practice Holotropic Breathwork intensely for a period of time, and some people who seem perhaps too attached to it for a while, I have seen no one ‘addicted’ to it.

There is probably not a single practice that, in the hands of an addict, can’t be used addictively. Holotropic Breathwork is definitely not appropriate for people who are actively addicted to anything (whether a drug, alcohol, food, or behaviour), as it tends to bring to the surface just that material that the addict is trying, through the addiction, to suppress; this increased conflict could increase addictive behaviour. But once an addict is in recovery, Holotropic Breathwork can be extremely healing, helping the recovering addict work through the suppressed material, and perhaps discover the deeper patterns that gave rise to his addiction.[iii]