The goal of addiction treatment is to help recovering addicts live a healthy, happy life free from substance abuse and addiction. This requires a sense of wellness for a person’s mind, body, and spirit. While drug rehabilitation programs may address the body and mind, alternative therapy programs are a more holistic approach to therapy. Examples of alternative therapies include acupuncture, yoga, biofeedback, and meditation. Meditation for addiction recovery has risen in popularity in recent years.
Meditation involves mindfulness and eliminating outside influences. Achieving a level of mindfulness is beneficial to recovering addicts because it helps them accept responsibility for their actions. Being mindful helps people to recognize negative thought and behavior patterns and develop positive ways in which to change them.
At its most basic level, meditation involves quietly sitting and focusing on one thing. This can be a thought or mantra, such as “I am at peace” or can be focusing on the body, such as breathing. For someone struggling with addiction, focusing thoughts can be as challenging as solving a very complex math problem. Learning and practicing meditation can help a person shift the focus away from cravings for drugs and alcohol or negative thoughts to a calming, peaceful place.
There are several benefits to meditation that can help a person in recovery.
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This form of therapy does not require special equipment or medications to be effective. It is associated with very few, if any, side effects. Therefore, anyone who wishes to develop their meditation practice can likely benefit. It is important that anyone who uses this form of therapy as a means for recovery choose a program that’s tailored to their needs. Helping a person identify the approach and thoughts that could help them in their recovery can be especially beneficial.
Several meditation types exist. One example that has been researched is Vipassana meditation. This practice is rooted in Buddhism tradition and involves participating in group-based sessions that can last as long as 10 to 11 hours per day. While this is a significant time commitment, a research study published in the journal, Psychology of Addictive Behavior, found addicted prisoners who used Vipassana were one-fifth less likely to relapse and commit crimes upon release from prison.
Another research review published in the journal Substance Abuse found preliminary evidence supports meditation as a therapy for treating substance abuse. The review also concluded that this form of therapy was associated with few side effects.
When in recovery, a person will be faced with many different thoughts, both negative and positive – returning to drug abuse and fighting to remain sober being examples. By learning to focus and tune in with one’s body, the goals for meditation are to help recovering addicts resist the urge to relapse and return to drug and alcohol abuse. Meditation also provides a healthy and stress-relieving outlet for a person to deal with the stress of everyday life. Oftentimes, it is stress that drives people to substance abuse in the first place.
While meditation is not intended to be the only treatment for those in recovery, it is part of a larger treatment plan that has been proven to help others live healthier, productive lives in long-term recovery.
- Bowen, S., Witkiewitz, K., Dillworth, T. M., Chawla, N., Simpson, T. L., Ostafin, B. D., . . . Marlatt, G. A. (2006, September). Mindfulness meditation and substance use in an incarcerated population. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16938074/
- Zgierska, A., Rabago, D., Chawla, N., Kushner, K., Koehler, R., & Marlatt, A. (2009). Mindfulness Meditation for Substance Use Disorders: A Systematic Review. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2800788/
Last updated on June 21st, 2017 at 05:35 pm