Meditation and Mindfulness Exercises for Addiction Recovery

Online learning opportunities on substance use disorders, alcohol and drug prevention, violence prevention, behavioral health issues, and more. Meditation has become a popular way to help treat addiction for many reasons. Meditation can slow your world down, help you gain perspective on life’s challenges, and can physiologically alter your body chemistry to reduce anxiety, drug cravings, and other negative feelings.

The instructor’s goal is to help a person build an image in his or her mind, such as the beach. The brain is the only organ that can be trained through learning. Addiction to drugs or alcohol can lead to unhealthy and negative thoughts. While in recovery, these thoughts can be dangerous and lead to relapse. Mindfulness in recovery allows these thoughts to be acknowledged without judgment and released without causing harm.

Focusing attention – The most important aspect of is focus. Ways to focus your attention include focusing on an object, image, mantra, or breathing. “In addiction, people turn to drugs to escape from uncomfortable feelings but in meditation, you learn to do the opposite. You sit with yourself, your thoughts and feelings instead of running away. But with meditation you cultivate a positive relationship to yourself and the world,” he says.

  • You can also start to incorporate them more into your regular routine.
  • The word “Yoga” means to unite, and can strengthen the connection between your mind, body, and spirit.
  • A meditation session can last a few minutes to an hour or longer.

Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in eight weeks. It is critical to know the root cause of your addiction, so as you breathe and relax, your conscious mind will let go even further and the subconscious mind will be allowed to fully receive these positive affirmations. The first author developed the Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement intervention, and has received income from the MORE treatment manual and therapist trainings. You can never completely avoid the wanting mind or any other hindrance. It causes us to strive toward bettering our lives and our world, and has led to many of the discoveries and inventions that have provided us with a higher quality of life. Yet despite all that we can achieve and possess, we can become convinced that we won’t be happy or contented unless we acquire even more.

It involves sitting comfortably in a quiet setting, focusing your attention and allowing thoughts and distractions to pass without assessing them. A variety of meditation practices can be incorporated into an addiction treatment program. People with this disorder experience high levels of anxiety in social situations. Their fear may include becoming embarrassed or being judged by others.

Benefits of Meditation for Addiction Recovery

Despite decades of research, SUD relapse rates remain high, underscoring the need for more effective treatments. Scientific findings indicate that SUDs are driven by dysregulation of neural processes underlying reward learning and executive functioning. Emerging evidence suggests that mindfulness training can target these neurocognitive mechanisms to produce significant therapeutic effects on SUDs and prevent relapse. The purpose of this manuscript is to review the cognitive, affective, and neural mechanisms underlying the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on SUDs. We discuss the etiology of addiction and neurocognitive processes related to the development and maintenance of SUDs. We then explore evidence supporting use of MBIs for intervening in SUDs and preventing relapse.

If someone includes yoga in their practice, they have a better method to achieve wellness and control over one’s mental activity. 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. Meditation is a powerful yet simple technique with many health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety. Due to the impactful effects of meditation, it has become more available in both substance abuse and general wellness circles as a form of therapy. The overall goal of meditation is to synchronize the mind and body for improved mental well-being and an enhanced quality of life.

Yoga: The Other Important Tool in Recovery

Addiction counsellors Radha Nicholson and Brendan Healy would agree. Over in Australia, they have pioneered the Bay Approach, a complete recovery method which combines meditative awareness with psychotherapy. The very idea that one must sit quietly and try to keep their minds from wandering can be a daunting task particularly for those suffering from addiction.

meditation for addiction

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it,” wrote the meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg. By remembering to take part in these mindfulness practices every day, our journey of recovery can become ever deeper, more meaningful, and more rewarding. What’s more, incorporating mindfulness exercises into treatment is especially helpful for those of us who have struggled with addiction to alcohol, drugs, porn, unhealthy relationships or other destructive behaviors. Studies have shown that mindfulness activities can actually reshape your brain in positive ways, improving physical and mental health and promoting overall well-being. It can help tame your anxiety, provide a greater self-awareness, and help you acknowledge and cope with emotions that may not be rooted in reality.

How Meditation Can Help During Addiction Recovery

That’s precisely the moment when adding mindfulness and meditation to your addiction recovery program could reboot your enthusiasm and re-energize your journey. When you first quit drugs or alcohol, you need all possible tools to help your recovery. There are several drug and alcohol treatment methods that most people know about it including counseling, drug detox, and 12-step meetings but lately, a more ancient tool is being used – meditation. Garland EL, Froeliger B, Howard MO. Effects of mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement on reward responsiveness and opioid cue-reactivity.

Don’t try to force yourself into a deep meditation right away – or any meditation at all for that matter! Just allow yourself the time and space to sit comfortably, focus on your breath, and enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet. Meditation also helps to expand a person’s perspective, allowing them to assess their thoughts and feelings from multiple angles. This can help you “get out of your head” and view your experiences through a more well-rounded and empathetic lens. Mindfulness meditation sessions, yoga practice and religious services can all promote a sense of inner stillness. So can gazing at the night sky, watching the ocean’s waves, or immersing yourself in activities like exercise, gardening, woodworking, painting or playing music—any moment you can spend with yourself.

Guided meditation can encourage someone to visualize peaceful mental images as someone facilitates it with guidance. I hope particularly that we can help our troubled youth who struggle with it. With every step you take, imagine how negative energy is leaving and positive energy takes up vacant space. If you choose walking or running, keep your focus on your feet hitting the ground.

Meditation is a mental exercise that focuses on relaxation, focus, awareness, and breathing. While meditation has long been used for religious and spiritual purposes, all can enjoy the mental awareness and clarity that can be found in just a few minutes of daily meditating. Many treatment centers now utilize meditation for your spirituality just like they use counseling for your mind or detox for your body. No one would expect meditation to be an important part of recovery but learning the breathing and thought techniques of meditation can help you slow the world down and gain perspective during difficult times. Now, just about every treatment center in the country uses some form of meditation to help recovering alcoholics and addicts achieve personal growth and inner peace.

If you’re aggressive, you can find ways to temper that aspect of yourself, becoming assertive and clear about your boundaries without entering into a competitive and possibly even hostile mind-set that will sabotage you. While it is not all about the reward, one advantage of mastering a process-oriented mindset is that it can also be applied to the addiction recovery process. Focusing solely on the “reward” of sobriety might keep you from taking the time to deal with any emotional trauma that might have contributed to your addiction. Looking at recovery as a process helps you understand that it’s never over, that it requires attention to all areas of your health.

  • Given that SUDs are chronically-relapsing conditions,50,58 any intervention for substance use should acknowledge the risk of relapse and take steps for prevention.
  • At The Recovery Village, we offer a comprehensiveaddiction treatment programthat includes holistic treatment options, including mindfulness meditation, recreational therapies, self-care activities, aftercare services and relapse prevention programs.
  • This can help introduce you to new techniques and can provide a way to meet other people who share your interest.
  • The increased focus and awareness achieved through meditation allows for better control of ourselves.
  • I hope particularly that we can help our troubled youth who struggle with it.

To rewire an addicted brain, you need to undergo a treatment process that will heal not only body but mind as well. But the struggle will continue as you will face triggering situations in your life. Fortunately, there is a method that can help you stop reacting to such triggers. In the article “Alcohol Facts and Statistics,” the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports this chronic relapsing brain disease affects more than 14 million people aged 18 and older in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the opioid epidemic claimed about 450,000 lives in the U.S. from 1999–2018. Drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogens also are addictive.

Alternatively, think of all the times you felt loved or were appreciated by others. Internally, you might feel tension in your belly, or heat in your chest. Then notice if these physical sensations eco sober house cost give rise to you labelling them with an emotion such as anxiety or anger. “Combined with psychotherapy, these meditative tools encourage people to take responsibility for themselves.

Don’t Start with a Specific End-Goal in Mind

The increased focus and awareness achieved through meditation allows for better control of ourselves. This extends to our ability to control impulsivity and be able to make better decisions. In order to achieve the desired effects of meditation, it’s best to practice on a regular basis. Meditation can be done seated, standing, as a group, alone, or while doing another activity like yoga. Meditation is the act of training attention and awareness to achieve a stable state of emotional calm and mental clarity.

Also, practicing mindfulness that improves the performance of the frontal cortex, which is responsible for thinking and planning. A meditation session can last a few minutes to an hour or longer. The goal is to balance the mind and body to improve overall health and quality of life by focusing on breathing or mantra chanting. Meditation helps people recover from addiction by promoting positive changes in regions of the brain responsible for self-control. In fact, one study reveals that meditators were able to separate the craving feeling from the act of smoking. By focusing on the present, meditators learn that one feeling or thought doesn’t have to lead to another feeling, thought, or action.

  • However, this isn’t always the case, and some meditations stimulate and energize instead, depending on what the point of the exercise is and what you’re training your brain and body to do.
  • Garland EL, Froeliger B, Howard MO. Mindfulness training targets neurocognitive mechanisms of addiction at the attention-appraisal-emotion interface.
  • In the Bay Approach, awareness and inquiry are used to help clients overcome addictive patterns.
  • A recent study shows that mind-body practices such as tai chi, as part of an integrated intervention program for alcoholism , can significantly improve self-regulation for people struggling with alcohol abuse.
  • As part of the addiction treatment process, meditation is particularly helpful for a variety of reasons.

If your mind starts to wander from the present, bring it back by refocusing on your breathing. If you’re in professional addiction treatment, you can consult with your care team to incorporate meditation into your treatment and even learn advanced skills. Building new skills does not happen quickly, so patience while learning and practicing this new coping technique is essential.

Mindfulness as a relapse prevention strategy versus mindfulness as a vehicle for recovery

Often used to enhance physical well-being, yoga combines low-impact physical activity with postures called “asanas,” breathing techniques called “pranayama,” relaxation, and meditation. Most people recognize and understand the physicality of yoga, but the core of the practice emphasizes spiritual wellbeing. Sleep is critical eco sober house review to getting through everyday life, and even more so for getting through something as physically and mentally strenuous as addiction recovery. Many people turn to sedative substances in order to calm anxiety or fall asleep, but this thirty minute meditation could be a more natural, safe, and healing alternative.

Through charitable support and a commitment to innovation, the Foundation is able to continually enhance care, research, programs and services, and help more people. At The Recovery Village, we offer a comprehensiveaddiction treatment programthat includes holistic treatment options, including mindfulness meditation, recreational therapies, self-care activities, aftercare services and relapse prevention programs. Meditation is a valuable part of these services for interested clients.Contact The Recovery Villagetolearn about admissions, treatment options and how our programs can help you begin living a substance-free life. In cases of withdrawal-related symptoms such an anxiety, insomnia, or depression, meditation can assist in grounding the individual and calming the nervous system. A calm nervous system enhances the overall quality of sleep, and during times of wakefulness, it enables better moods.

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