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Can meditation help with addiction?

11 Jun

Can meditation help with addiction?

In addition to fighting normal age-related memory loss, meditation can at least partially improve memory in patients with dementia. It can likewise help control stress and improve coping in those caring for family members with dementia (28, 29). One review concluded that meditation lives up to its reputation for stress reduction (1). The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its many health benefits. Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.

If you need to improve your focus and learn to identify body sensations, focused meditation might be suitable. Your treatment team can help you to select a type of meditation that will benefit your addiction recovery. Meditation can be an effective tool for those suffering from withdrawal symptoms from addiction.

How we reviewed this article:

Advances in biobehavioral science occurring over the past several decades have made significant headway in elucidating mechanisms that undergird addictive behavior. This large body of research suggests that addiction is best regarded as a cycle of compulsive substance use subserved by dysregulation in neural circuitry governing motivation and hedonic experience, habit behavior, and executive function [1]. Though findings from the basic science of addiction have yielded novel treatment targets that may inform the development of promising pharmacotherapies, the behavioral treatment development process often lags addiction meditation behind the ever-accelerating pace of mechanistic discovery. In that regard, the mainstays of behavioral addictions treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing, were developed decades ago and prior to the current understanding of addiction as informed by neuroscience. Yet, to the extent that behavioral therapies target dysregulated neurocognitive processes underlying addiction, they may hold promise as effective treatments for persons suffering from addictive disorders. Consider the case of a man in partial remission from alcohol use disorder who has recently stopped drinking.

  • From my own experience and work, I know that regular mindfulness practice allows us to set aside distractions and enter the transformative state of open mind.
  • People in early recovery typically experience mood swings, described by some as an emotional rollercoaster.
  • In so doing, the transitory nature of craving is revealed, and one may realize that craving need not inexorably lead to substance use.
  • For instance, do MBIs decrease addictive behavior by strengthening inhibitory control via activation of top-down neural circuitry?
  • Anyone suffering from addiction knows about the “urge” — the overwhelming, tunnel-vision like, super-powerful impulse to satisfy your craving.

It is an excellent way to relax when you feel anxious or depressed, stabilize your mood, get more quality sleep, and take care of yourself. In the course of withdrawing and recovering, meditation can be very beneficial in helping you stay calm and focused. Meditation is a legitimate way to muster the courage and calmness needed to beat addiction and cultivate a contented, wholesome life. Now that we’ve covered a brief overview of addiction, let’s talk a little bit about its relation to meditation. Mindfulness-based interventions such as meditation are often used when treating addiction as they can help to increase self-control and reduce stress. It can take a little while for mindfulness meditation to feel natural and to become a part of your regular routine.

Spiritual Meditation

Recovering addicts who keep in touch with themselves through daily meditation are more likely to recognize early warning signs that they may be headed for relapse. They can then use their other recovery tools to keep destructive behavior at bay. If you enjoy being active, movement meditation might be a good choice for you.

  • A landmark 2002 study at the John F. Kennedy Institute (Kjaer et al) found that the dopamine levels of participants were boosted by a whopping 65% during meditation.
  • Mindfulness meditation allows us to observe our thoughts without judging, editing, or censoring.
  • Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation but also over time in individuals who meditate regularly.
  • Additionally, experience in meditation may cultivate more creative problem-solving skills (21).

Your mind might simply want you to return to your habit of meditating regularly because it’s a comfortable, known, and safe space. During meditation, you develop intentional focus and minimize random thoughts about the past or future. But a simple way to think of it is training your attention to achieve a mental state of calm concentration and positive emotions.

Helps control pain

Mindfulness can also help treat people with specific problems including depression, pain, smoking and addiction. Several studies have found, for example, that MBCT can significantly reduce relapse in people who have had previous episodes of major depression. What’s more, mindfulness-based interventions can improve physical health, too.

Withdrawal happens when a person addicted to a substance like drugs or alcohol reduces or completely stops using it. Depending on the individual, this could result in a wide range of physical and psychological responses, resulting in a wide range of different reactions. Typical symptoms often involve bouts of anxiety or depression, becoming easily irritable, feeling wiped out, and grappling with physical discomfort. Depending on things like how long they’ve been hooked and their overall health, these symptoms can range from a slight nuisance to severe. This latter process is consistent with the ancient soteriological intention of mindfulness as a means of reducing craving by gaining insight into the true nature of the self as impermanent and interdependent [89]—paralleling Bateson’s classical cybernetic model of addiction recovery [90].

Therapeutic mechanisms of mindfulness as a treatment for addiction

As numerous EEG studies show, alpha and theta brainwaves dominate during a meditative state. What is the best way to train the brain into the super beneficial alpha-theta state without expensive biofeedback therapy? While we have outlined one basic philosophy / form of meditation in the links below, if you already have a proven meditation technique — then we encourage you to combine & enhance it with our audio technology. EquiSync uses sound to deepen the meditative state no matter your chosen technique. Many addicts come into recovery with a history of relationships that they have damaged or that have damaged them. Meditation makes it easier for them to forgive the past and develop healthy relationships.

Furthermore, SUD intervention is complicated by the continuous possibility of relapse. 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 (MBIs) on SUDs.


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