meditation-for-addiction

Benefits of Meditation for Addiction

Struggling with substance use and addiction can feel like a lonely, uphill battle. Drugs change how our brains work in ways that make quitting very hard, even if we want to.

Sometimes, the causes of addiction are rooted deep in emotional trauma, fear, depression, and anxiety. In order to have a successful recovery process, you must find the root of why you started using substances.

Meditation is a way to calm and center the mind in connection to the body. Since addiction affects the brain, it is not surprising there’s research showing the many benefits of meditation for addiction.

Could incorporating a few minutes of mindful meditation into your day improve your odds of a successful and long-lasting recovery?

Keep reading to learn about the many ways meditation can help to rewire your brain and increase your chances of recovering from addiction.

An Introduction to Meditation

Meditation is the act of training attention and awareness to achieve a stable state of emotional calm and mental clarity.

Meditation is a practice. 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.

The goal of meditation is to get your mind and body in tune with one another and improve overall well-being. 

Different Types of Meditation

There are several different types of meditation techniques. These techniques include:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Zen meditation
  • Guided meditation
  • Transcendental meditation

Learn more about the different types of meditation by following this link. Find out which type of meditation is best for you.

Benefits of Meditation for Addiction

There are ongoing studies investigating the link between substance use and meditation. There is evidence that meditation can reduce levels of alcohol consumption, as well as cocaine and methamphetamines.

Research has also found that mindfulness practices can reduce the risk of relapse. Practicing mindfulness teaches coping methods for discomfort. This can help you handle the effects of drug cravings and the negative effects of substance use.

Meditation has shown to have positive benefits that support addiction recovery. It can help you feel calm, develop methods for coping with triggers, and avoid relapse.

Improved Self-Control

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.

The qualities developed through meditation have also shown to improve people’s ability to cope with triggers. When you feel confident and in control, know how to calm yourself, and think clearly, it is easier to respond effectively.

Another benefit of meditation that has positive effects on addiction is improved emotional stability. When a person is emotionally stable they are in a position to make better choices and form more healthy and positive reactions.

Improved Mental Health

Meditation alters brainwaves in a way that improves psychological function. It also causes a reduction in cortisol, the stress hormone.

Meditation calms the mind and body, interrupting the fight or flight response. This can help a person recovering from addiction develop a higher threshold for stress.

Mindfulness enhances the function of the frontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that regulates our thinking and planning. Meditation also decreases the appearance of insomnia, which can be a trigger for addicts.

There is also evidence that meditation can reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.

Increased Ability To Feel Pleasure

The longer a person regularly uses substances, the less their body becomes able to produce dopamine. Dopamine is the pleasure hormone. It’s what makes us feel good.

The more we use substances, the less we are able to feel good on our own. Meditation releases dopamine naturally, which is what happens when we use substances.

A 2002 study by the John F. Kennedy Center showed that people with substance addiction experience increased levels of dopamine when they practice meditation.

Increased dopamine improves feelings of anxiety and reduces negative motivations. It reduces feelings like the need to fill a void or worst-case scenario mindsets.

Reduced Risk of Relapse

Meditation allows you to develop healthy coping mechanisms. This enables you to better handle stress. So, the next time you’re tempted to use substances you have more control over that impulse.

Meditation also helps to reduce post-acute withdrawal symptoms. This makes it much easier to get through the withdrawal phase and begin recovering.

The improved quality of sleep, enhanced mood, and improved impulse control provide a better defense against withdrawal and relapse.

Tips For Meditation Beginners

If you’re new to meditation, you might feel a little bit unsure of how to get started. While meditation takes practice to learn how to do it in a way that is effective, it’s not as hard as you think.

Here are a few tips for those just starting out.

Don’t Force It

Meditative practices aren’t developed by force. They are an act of letting go of the reward mentality. The goal is to enjoy the process of developing awareness and mental clarity.

Meditation is a process like addiction recovery is a process. Both are ongoing and lifelong. Ideally, meditation will become a regular part of your daily or weekly routine.

It Gets Easier as You Go

The longer and more often you practice meditation, the easier it becomes. You can begin by meditating for as little as ten minutes.

As your focus improves and you’re able to concentrate for longer periods of time, extend your practice sessions. You can also start to incorporate them more into your regular routine.

After a while, you’ll start to catch on and feel the difference in your peace of mind and sense of wellbeing.

It’s Worth It

You may not feel like you are getting the hang of meditating. Trust that you are still reaping the benefits of the practice.

Enjoy the effects of relaxing, breathing deeply, and taking a moment to check in with yourself. These habits are valuable for your physical health even if you don’t feel the mental benefits right away.

The goal of meditation is to learn to enjoy the journey and focus less on the reward.

Other Ways To Support Recovery

If you are struggling with substance use and feel you need more than the benefits meditation for addiction can offer, it is important to get help from experienced and caring professionals who can help.

Bridging the Gaps provides individualized treatment for substance use and addiction. They believe treatment should be available and affordable for all who want it.

Contact Bridging the Gaps today to learn more about the services they offer and get started on your journey to recovery.

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