Overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction doesn’t happen overnight, and it often takes more than one approach. As the weeks, months, and years pass by, you’ll find that some treatments work well, and other just don’t meet your expectations. Wherever you are in your journey, meditation for addiction recovery can make all the difference.
But what are the benefits of starting a meditation practice to overcome substance use disorder?
1. It Gives You a Natural High
One of the most convincing reasons to use meditation for addiction recovery is the fact that it can give you a natural high.
Nearly every other method of addiction recovery includes finding ways to fight the urge to get that high, but meditation actually encourages you to get the high you’re seeking. Of course, this high comes from a safe, healthy activity that won’t lead to you developing a dependence.
Meditating naturally activates your brain’s happiness center in the prefrontal cortex. It’s the same area of the brain that is stimulated when addicted to drugs and alcohol, and it’s the same area that is under-active when crashing after a fix or going through withdrawals.
With regular practice, you can actually change your brain. Meditation can create more neural density, increase the thickness of your cerebral cortex, and create more consistent activity within the prefrontal cortex. These changes are important because they literally allow meditation to train your brain to be happy and satisfied without the need for drugs or alcohol.
2. Meditation for Addiction Recovery Works with Rehab
Traditional rehab at a qualified recovery center is always a good idea if you’re struggling with an addiction. In addition to providing you with a supportive atmosphere and access to an experienced support system, many centers will also teach you to meditate the right way. By pairing a traditional rehab experience with meditation, you can decrease your chances of experiencing a setback after your time in rehab is over.
A study conducted by the University of Washington found that inmates who meditated consistently for three months after being taught the proper techniques drank 87 percent less alcohol and used 89 percent less marijuana after being released from prison.
This is an especially important statistic for people who have already been to rehab and relapsed after treatment. Meditation raises the likelihood that you will be able to stay sober in the long term.
3. It Can Help with Stress and Fighting the Urge to Use
Life is often stressful. Add in substance use disorder, and it becomes even more so. After losing drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms, you may be unsure of how to handle stress. However, meditation for addiction recovery is a great way to reduce stress levels, and in turn, reduce the urge to use.
Meditation reduces feelings of anger, depression, and anxiety. Because it changes your brain, it makes it easier for you to tackle stress when it rears its ugly head. It enables you to tackle the challenges ahead without turning to the drugs and alcohol you have fought so hard to banish from your life.
4. It Can Give You Emotional Balance
Recovery often comes with mood swings. One minute you can feel like you’re on top of the world, tackling your addiction head-on, and the next, you’re completely devastated that you’ve gotten yourself into this mess in the first place. Meditation can help you weather those emotional storms.
Meditation has the ability to transform your emotions. It can help you transform aggression into assertiveness and passivity into peace. When your emotions seem to be overwhelming you, meditation is a great tool to help you quiet the mind.
5. You’ll Get a New Perspective on Your Thoughts
Addiction appears because of a thought, whether that’s “I need to relax” or “I really need a drink.” You (like everyone else) trust your thoughts to provide you with the truth, and you may sometimes follow them without thinking them through. That is dangerous for an addict.
Meditative states can make you an observer of your own thoughts. Thoughts can come and go without you acting on them or judging them in positive or negative ways. Meditation can teach you that it’s what you do after you have those thoughts that define who you are as a person, not the initial thoughts themselves.
6. Meditation Gives You an Activity for Times of Boredom
Some addicts turn to drugs and alcohol in times of stress, while others do drugs and alcohol during social situations. Others experience the most problems when there simply isn’t anything else to do.
It can be difficult to stop thoughts of using when you’re sitting around with nothing else to do. When watching TV, listening to music, or cleaning the house won’t keep you mentally occupied, turn to meditation.
When you’re bored, you can fill that time with a mindful meditation. You’ll reap the other benefits on this list while filling your time with something more positive than turning to your addiction.
Get the Help You Need
Many times, facing mental health and addiction issues are too much to handle alone. The underlying issues remain, and these are the areas that we help with during treatment. We know that nothing is more disheartening than relapsing after leaving rehab, so we give patients the tools to stay sober. Reach out to Cambridge Behavioral Hospital to learn about available treatment options. You can contact us online or call us at 1-740-661-6398.