Is It Possible to Use Meditation for Addiction Recovery?

November 28, 2019

Drug addiction and substance abuse are all about escaping from something. The stresses of your life, past traumas, any number of things. This is why recognizing that pattern and becoming aware of your need to escape is a big part of addiction recovery. Mindfulness and meditation are all about focusing on yourself and becoming aware of your unconscious thoughts and patterns. Naturally, meditation for addiction recovery can be a hugely useful tool in tackling substance abuse.

What is Meditation?

Meditation, broadly speaking, is the practice of self-awareness. Sometimes referred to as ‘mindfulness’, the specific kind of self-awareness that meditation aims to achieve is an awareness of the here and now. There are many different schools of meditation that span history and the globe. However, all of them share a common goal of heightening their practitioners’ connection with their mind and body. 

The origins of meditation are not precisely known. And that’s largely because it is very, very old. Written evidence of meditation dates back as far as 1500 BCE. Artwork appearing to depict meditation goes back many thousands of years further than that. Seemingly originating in South and East Asia at around the same time, meditations earliest practitioners were followers of the Vedic and early Hindu schools as well as the Taoist monks of China.

Benefits of Meditation

Despite being practiced for thousands of years, meditation’s benefits have only recently begun to be recognized by modern science. Studies have found that regular meditation can have a range of potential benefits, both mentally and physically. Depression and anxiety can be helped by regular meditation, as can chronic pain and other physical ailments.

Research into the long-term impact of meditation is relatively new, so there is likely lots more to discover. Every year, more studies look into meditation’s effects. We already know that even short daily meditation sessions can help with a number of conditions. Some beneficial effects of meditation are:

Mental Health

  • Reducing stress
  • Limiting anxiety 
  • Mood improvement
  • Alleviating symptoms of depression
  • Enhanced self-awareness 
  • Improved memory
  • Lessen cravings for addictions

Physical Health

  • Reducing stress
  • Limiting anxiety 
  • Mood improvement
  • Alleviating symptoms of depression
  • Enhanced self-awareness 
  • Improved memory
  • Lessen cravings for addictions
Meditation has been proven to be very effective at rewiring neurological pathways.

Meditation for Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is one of the intersections of physical and mental health where meditation has been shown to have a huge impact. This may be due to the fact that such a large number of addicts also have co-occurring disorders. Approximately 26% of people with substance use disorders are also diagnosed with some form of anxiety or mood disorder. The effectiveness of meditation in treating and managing anxiety and mood disorders makes it an excellent tool in treating addiction.

At the heart of all addiction recovery programs is the goal of rewiring the brain. Replacing old, bad habits with good new ones. Replacing cravings with new hobbies and impulses. Meditation has been proven to be very effective at rewiring neurological pathways. By aiding in the rebuilding of positive neural connections in the brain’s reward center, meditation can be a very effective secondary therapy in treating and alleviating the symptoms of substance addiction and withdrawal.

How to Meditate

Meditation takes practice, but it’s free and accessible to anyone who tries it. Below is an example of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a way to meditate anywhere, at any time, without needing any equipment.

  • Find a quiet place where you can sit or lay down and think without interruption. This can be on your bed, in the sun in the park, or in your backyard.
  • Close your eyes and breathe naturally. 
  • Focus on your breath and the calamity of your body.
  • Observe your thoughts and let them pass by without judgment. This way, you can see patterns in your thoughts and feelings.
  • Clear your mind of any thoughts. 
  • If you have a thought, let it pass by like a cloud.
  • If you hear a noise during your meditation, acknowledge it, and let the thought of it go.
  • Focus on the new space freed up in your mind that was once taken up by thoughts.

After this, you’ll feel mental clarity. If you aren’t able to let certain thoughts go, that’s perfectly natural for beginners and you can work your way up to it each time you meditate.

In addition to mindfulness meditation, you can also try other meditation, such as concentration meditation, which involves focusing on a certain object such as candlelight, and immediately redirecting your attention to the object when you catch your thoughts drifting.

There are also free apps that provide narration for guided meditation to help you focus through the process. The narration of a yoga instructor can also help improve your mindfulness, and you can practice mindfulness meditation in the final resting pose of the class.

Holistic Recovery Center in Orange County

In conclusion, meditation has been practiced since ancient history for a reason. It has substantial benefits when practiced short-term and long-term. When you practice meditation and mindfulness while on the road to recovery, you can help your body and your mind defend itself against anxiety, depression, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings.

When you incorporate meditation as a long-term habit in your aftercare, you will help your brain improve memory, control emotional responses, and rebuild connections in the reward center that have been damaged by drug addiction. Best of all, you can get the benefits of meditation anywhere and at any time.

At our holistic recovery center in Orange County, we pride ourselves on offering holistic addiction recovery resources including meditation. Learn more about Gratitude Lodge today. 

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