Does Meditation Really Help During Addiction Recovery? An Honest Look
Rehabilitation programs often use holistic approaches to addiction treatment in combination with traditional practices. One alternative therapy is meditation which has been proven to provide powerful support during the recovery process. However, individuals may look at meditation as some kind of mystical practice that can only be achieved by gurus in far off lands. Some people also feel highly intimidated by the thought of meditating and quieting the mind – especially during addiction recovery when they are at their most vulnerable.
To debunk these myths and concerns, it’s essential to understand how meditation is used during recovery and how it can be accessible to everyone, no matter your skill level. To utilize the benefits of meditation during treatment, the teacher understands that the practice must be refined and adjusted to reflect the needs and realities of those in recovery. Here’s an honest look at how meditation can genuinely benefit those during treatment.
Meditation and Confronting Feelings
There is a myth that meditation helps individuals “workaround” or avoid feelings of anger or sadness. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Meditation, especially in recovery, helps people actually confront their thoughts and feelings – not cover them up. During a session, the facilitator uses meditation as a tool to allow those in treatment to feel every negative emotion and ride it out. Individuals feel the energy and emotions coming through their bodies and learn to confront and acknowledge them. Eventually, the goal is to “allow space” for the negative thoughts and emotions that individuals would typically cover up with drugs or alcohol. By acknowledging the negative thoughts and feelings, processing them, and then allowing them to pass, the individual learns how to deal with these emotions more effectively in the real world, and to eventually detach from them.
Meditation and Non-Judgement
Some people are intimidated by meditation because they think if they do not master sitting in silence for a certain period of time, they just can’t do it. This is not true. There is no set duration of time when someone should meditate. Beginners can start at just a few minutes per session, and there should be no pressure to do more than you can give to the practice. Being in the moment and mindful is vital to the addiction recovery process, and however long that moment is – should not be the focus. Remember, meditation allows those in recovery to release negative emotions and thoughts without feeling judged.
Reducing Cravings and Relapse
Meditation improves your self-awareness and helps you detach from negative thoughts and impulses, this practice can reduce cravings and prevent relapse. It also lowers stress and anxiety and helps reduce negative emotions that can trigger individuals to reach for drugs or alcohol.
One study in the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health discussed how mindful meditation (or Mindfulness Meditation) helps those in recovery reduce drug and alcohol cravings. It states, “Through gaining awareness of substance use patterns, automaticity of use, and the extent to which they are self-medicating with substances, individuals can then use mindfulness skills to address their SUD symptoms. They can utilize techniques like mindful breathing, body scan, and mindfulness of everyday life activities to de-automatize substance use habits, strengthen self-regulatory capacity, and thereby exert greater self-control over their behavior.”
Some specific types of meditation used in addiction recovery are Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). MBSR is a meditational practice that involves educational awareness of the causes and effects of stress while incorporating some aspects of yoga. MBCT is a subset of MBSR that includes cognitive therapeutic modalities that are focused on the removal of negative thinking that is often a cause of relapse. These forms of meditation are meant to be practiced in tandem with traditional rehabilitation treatments and modalities specifically designed for patients. Besides all the advantages stated above, meditation has also been shown to improve overall physical and mental health by:
- Improving the immune system
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing physical and chronic pain
- Increasing patience and tolerance
- Improving sleeping
- Enhancing creativity and imagination
Substance Use, Addiction, and Treatment
Meditation balances our body, mind, and spirit and is an essential tool when healing from addiction. An increase in self-awareness, improved mental functioning, a decrease in stress, and learning to detach from negative thoughts and impulses are all promoted through mediation. This practice has been shown to greatly reduce cravings and prevent the potential for relapse.
If you or a loved one is battling addiction or a substance use disorder, make the life-saving decision to free yourself from the harmful and deadly effects of addiction and contact Daylight Recovery Services today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT. Our specialized team uses researched-based addiction therapy as well as holistic treatments, such as meditation and yoga, while addressing the underlying components of drug addiction and recovery to treat the whole person. Contact us today.