Meditation and Addiction Recovery: How It Works
There are multiple root causes for addiction but with the right treatment, people who have moved from rehab to sobriety can continue their victory against their addictions with ongoing meditation. There are many modalities available to those seeking to free themselves from the binds of addiction but some incorporate the use of meditation or mindfulness. There are a number of good reasons for this but the most important reason is: it works. And here are some of the reasons how it works:
Since stress is a major contributor to the development of addiction, it’s not surprising that meditation is an effective way to ward off the urge to relapse. Science shows that meditation reduces stress and the inclusion of mindfulness meditation in addiction recovery is a way to begin utilizing this powerful means of retraining your brain. According to Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Center for Anxiety and Stress Disorders, people can utilize meditation to help change their thought patterns by learning to think differently. Mindfulness helps you to think realistically and reasonably, rather than over-think or over-worry.
According to the EOC Institute, a 2009 Duke University-Caltech study revealed that meditation creates stimulation in the area of the brain that is also active in people with high levels of willpower. Specifically, EOC Institute states:
The findings showed that the “dorsolateral prefrontal cortex” as the section of the brain activated by people with high levels of willpower. It just so happens that this is the same area that is especially active during meditation, as evidenced by numerous research studies.
Science has shown that mindfulness meditation results in positive emotions as well as boosted immune systems. By implementing meditation that keeps you focused on the positive aspects of your life, your mind is more open and positive and this helps to alleviate any underlying depression you may have going on.
Going through treatment, you no doubt learn the reasons behind your addiction. Mindfulness meditation can help by keeping you in touch with this authentic part of yourself; this part that may be tempted to relapse. Through meditation, you are able to be present and in the moment and stop yourself because you recognize the signs of temptation. You recognize your challenge for what it is and you have the tools to combat the need for relief.
So how does one practice meditation?
Meditation is similar to religion in this way: it is personal to everyone. What works for some, may not work for others. Similarly, what works for you in some situations, may not be the right technique in others.
Some basic principles are:
Generally, all meditations include mindful breathing. That is: focusing your attention on your breath. This is an important step to centering yourself and calming your mind. Experts suggest that people practice mindful breathing for 15 minutes per day but it is important to include mindful breathing when meditating. Focusing on your breathing can also be an effective quick-fix for moments of intense stress.
Focusing On Presence
By focusing on the moment, you remove yourself from the chaotic demands that life puts on you and stay within the space and time where you exist right now. This is an important part of recovery because it can help replace the subconscious demands for an addictive behavior or substance with the reality that you are okay. Right now. This moment.
Meditation can be used to affirm your commitments and successes. By being present and in the moment, quiet and still in your mind, you can reinforce the battles you’ve won and thereby retrain the amygdala in your brain with this positive reinforcement.
Meditation is a powerful tool to use when going through recovery as well as after rehabilitation and treatment. It is important, however, to understand that successful recovery means more than meditation. It’s imperative that you first work with someone who understands addiction and can help you determine the root cause(s) of your addiction. This will help build the foundation of your recovery.
Contact us today and let’s discuss the different treatment options available to help you move on to a brighter, more positive and healthy future.