Did you know that there is a correlation between meditation and addiction recovery?
In fact, the correlation between meditation and addiction recovery is so strong that it can serve as a mind-body connection to not only promote calm and relaxation but also as a tool for stress relief in which substitutes drugs or alcohol. Yet, first and foremost, we must address that meditation is a mindfulness activity or practice that enhances awareness, peace, and self-control. According to Melissa Carmona, editor at The Recovery Village, “Recent evidence found mindfulness-based interventions like meditation could reduce the consumption of alcohol, cocaine, and amphetamines.” This contends that meditation or any other mindfulness activity has the power to make one more aware of their thoughts and triggers to avoid relapse and protracted withdrawal, the ugly, intense symptoms attached to becoming sober. Even Ronald Alexander PhD. (Psychology Today), asserts that “one of the first steps in dealing with addiction is to discover the emotional cause of it.” Of course, this is because addiction is formed when we are trying to fill the void of an emotional need or want instead of examining the root cause of our struggles.
Becoming More Mindful
While desire is a good thing that can lead to more success and contentment, it can also lead to a feeling of never having or being enough. Thus, it is important to be mindful of this tendency to rectify it. As a result, this can cause people to have issues with regulating a healthy mood. In the same vein, Alexander encourages, “mindfulness meditation, yoga practice, and regular exercise as they are all excellent to help mood regulation.” Because of these activities, not only do patients experience lower levels of stress but they also have an increase in interleukin levels in which enhances their immune system and boosts energy. After all, as the Addiction Center explains, “the overall goal of meditation is to synchronize the mind and body for improved mental wellbeing and an enhanced quality of life” and thereby increase” awareness and concentration.” As such, there are quite a few effective meditation types to adopt for addiction recovery.
According to Addiction Center, there are at least four methods that fight off addiction or relapse. Some of those methods include ” mindfulness meditation” (a popular meditation method in which focuses on enhancing concentration), “zen meditation” (focuses on the present moment and being calm and non-reactive), “guided meditation” (meditation in which entails a patient who is guided to visualize harmonious, immersive imagery), and “transcendental meditation” (a silent mantra that reinforces effortlessness to achieve peace and stress reduction). Furthermore, to reiterate, RTOR shows that while “reaching victory is a big victory,” one must note that rewiring the addicted brain calls for a healing treatment process that facilitates a healthy relationship between the mind and body. Aside from mindfulness meditation and the rest of the aforementioned methods, other meditation methods encompass “breathing meditation (calm the mind to develop inner peace),” “water meditation (an effective way to manage old-drug-based thoughts),” and “moving meditation (engaging with the stimuli of nature amidst absent of thought and present with unity)” respectively. Essentially, meditation reduces symptoms of addiction and withdrawal and sports many benefits such as less depression, stress, and rest deprivation.
Benefits of Meditation and Addiction Recovery
Even though some still think that the benefits of meditation are out there and thereby hold little validity in the real world, the benefits of meditation are in fact quite profound and effective. For example, “Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, conducted a study in 2005 and found out that meditators had more neural density, cortical thickness, and overall activity within the prefrontal cortex.” This means that meditation produces a non-harmful, all-natural high sans the side effects of alcohol or drugs in which trains meditators to make more helpful decisions ever since the brain is being rewired to be happier. Arguably, the best attribute of the plentitude of benefits is its easy accessibility (i.e. free and at home). Accordingly, Addiction Center accredits other significant benefits of meditation therapy such as “reduced PTSD and ADHD symptoms,” “emotional stability,” “decreased insomnia, “increased strength,” and of course “reduced risk of relapse.” As such, meditators are able to replace fear with motivation and motor control and OCD-like patterns with more neutrality or a lack of attachment (objective) to thoughts. This does not mention how, in contrast to a Molecular Psychiatry study that showed drug abusers crash when experiencing low levels of dopamine, a “John F. Kennedy study “revealed a 65% boost in the minds of participants during meditation.” Consequently, meditators learn how to adequately fight their cravings and transmit feel-good chemicals to their mind and body alike.
Then again, why just recover from substance abuse? What is the point of just getting by when you can be in the flow of recovery? Indeed, sometimes we lose interest in something, such as a twelve step program that used to provide value and enthusiasm but know instead ramps up the stress factor. This can also apply to addiction, of course, in a sense that you want more to achieve the same high. Again, this can be achieved with the meditation practices that will be discussed. As such, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation articulates that the following five methods are essential: “be present,” “focus on the breath,” “recognize your thoughts as thoughts,” “expand your circle of compassion,” and “be still.” In other words, it is important to not take the simplest pleasure for granted and thereby be mindful of the reality of now every day, routinely taking deep breaths even in the most stressful moments, checking thoughts and identifying how they make one feel to change them, realizing everyone is “just like me” to build bridges, and last but not least simply being interconnected with all that is. As you can see, recovery doesn’t stop at abstinence but rather is the beginning of journey, not a destination, to be your best, most empowered and sober version yet! Furthermore, the Addiction Center states “Meditation can aid Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by reinforcing focusing on one’s behavior similar to a mindful practice. Lastly, meditation can teach individuals to accept what is, put the past in perspective, or create intentions which are beneficial for someone in treatment.” As a result, cognitive restructuring and offering hope are key to addiction recovery to change the narrative of suffering.
Final Thoughts on Addiction Recovery
In the end, anything can be an addiction. The question is: are you high after the high? In other words, are you high on sobriety? Are you in control even when your external circumstances are everything but? And, if not, evidentially, it is more than okay? We all have to get to a point of accepting ourselves. This includes embracing our vices in the same breath ad our virtues. Indeed the capacity to identify the root cause to our addiction is only amplified by the mindful meditation practices discussed above. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so even if you don’t recover from your drug in twelve steps, just observe how far you’ve come. Thus, you are the space between meditation and recovery. The occupied, not vacant, space in your heart.
I hope this article found you well and helped you and more importantly understand how to break the chains Again, note that no one is imperfect and none of this is your fault. We all have different ways of coping with the stressors embedded in life. It is how we respond that determines the quality of our life. Because of this, meditation is an excellent aid to addiction recovery and beyond.
Why not embark on a journey of freedom, redemption, peace, clarity, love, mindfulness, enlightenment, and wholeness?