Find Your Zen: Everything About Meditation for Addiction Recovery
Addiction is rampant in the United States.
21.5 million Americans struggled with a substance use disorder in 2014; 17% of men and 8% of women in the general population will experience alcoholism in their lifetimes.
Those are scary figures.
Anyone who has experience addiction will know of the damaging, potentially life-threatening impact it has. Given the prevalence of addiction in society, there's never been a greater need for effective, holistic treatment for this debilitating illness.
Thankfully, there are many forms of help available. And meditation's one of them!
But how does meditation for addiction recovery work? How can meditation support someone in their recovery?
Keep reading to find out.
Let's begin by looking at what meditation actually is.
Meditation is an ancient practice that goes back thousands of years. Many varieties have risen up in that time. However, what binds them is a desire to develop and nurture a calm and positive state of mind.
Through a focus and self-compassionate approach to the present moment, it's possible to cultivate an inner calmness and peace of mind.
Meditation was once confined to the realm of pseudo-scientific alternative therapy. Thankfully, nowadays it's a scientifically recognized treatment for all manner of physical and mental health issues.
How Does Meditation for Addiction Recovery Work?
Now we have a better idea of what meditation is, let's turn to how it can benefit those recovering from addiction.
It Alters Your Brain
Contrary to past opinion, it's perfectly possible to change our brains.
It's known as neuroplasticity. Essentially, like plastic, our brains are able to mold and adapt over time. Meditation is one way of doing it.
Meditation forms new connections, expanding and strengthening neural pathways. This 'new brain' can have a profound impact on who we are and how we behave.
For instance, in this way, meditation is credited with reduced activity in the emotional center of our brain. This can help to overcome and regulate our fear response.
Where emotions can run riot in recovery, meditation can make a difference.
It Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Shame's a frequent emotional bully to the recovering addict.
The anxiety and depression that go with it can be hugely debilitating. These negative emotions can threaten the resolve of an addict who remembers the emotional shelter of drug/alcohol consumption.
Meditation is a known antidote for such internal hardship. There's a host of scientific literature that shows the benefits of meditation for reducing anxiety and depression.
It Roots You in the Present Moment
The throws of addiction tend to place you anywhere but the present moment.
Whether it's a focus on the shame of the past or cravings for a future hit/drink, it's tough to stay present. The very nature of meditation counters this.
Most meditational practices encourage an intense focus on something that grounds you fully in what's happening now, in this instant.
It could be your breathing or the smells and sounds in your environment. Whatever it is, you escape the struggle of past and future and sustain a level of peace that comes with presence.
It Enables Early Awareness of Issues
There are major benefits to being present.
One of which is the ability to recognize early the existence of any negative emotion or craving. Thoughts of past and future distract us from our feelings in the moment.
It becomes harder to recognize how we're doing. Crisis and cravings can creep up without us realizing. Meditation allows us to see and feel what's happening before it goes too far.
With this knowledge, we can act quickly to prevent the issue from going further. Effective crisis work is all about preventative measures: spotting what happens before it becomes an issue, before doing something about it.
Meditation enables this vital skill.
It Improves Our Ability to Cope with Stress
Stress is a constant theme of addiction and recovery.
It plays into everything. From initial use of a substance to addiction maintenance and relapse, stress is kryptonite for recovery.
We feel stressed. It's uncomfortable and overwhelming. We seek a solution. We know substances offer a quick and easy tool to do it.
Thankfully, we can reduce our stress-levels through meditation.
Our bodies produce a stress hormone called cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol result in feelings of stress. Meditation is proven to lower levels of cortisol in our system.
It Calms Your Mind
A central premise in meditation is the intention to calm our minds.
Consciously or unconsciously, we're almost constantly stuck in a train of thought. Humans endure an incessant internal jibber-jabber that makes it impossible to be fully present. This inner dialogue is a script that can govern and dictate the experience.
This 'monkey-mind' can cause problems for everyone. But it's often especially difficult for people in recovery.
It's possible to gain control of the monkey mind through meditation. You become present and aware of what you're thinking. In time and with practice, your mind calms to the point where you're in control.
This relates to the impact of meditation on your brain. In essence, you regain control of it.
The result is a feeling of relaxation and peace that enables and empowers a recovering addict.
Time to Wrap Up
There you have it: everything you need to know about meditation for addiction recovery.
Addiction's a debilitating illness that's increasingly prevalent in today's society. Recovery isn't easy. Thankfully though, effective treatments exist that can make the journey easier. The ancient practice of meditation is one such scientifically validated approach.
The simple idea of cultivating a calm and positive state of mind can have profound effects.
Meditation helps to remold your brain itself. You're placed firmly in the present moment, enabling early awareness of issues. Anxiety, depression, and stress are all reduced. The result is a restored feeling of calm that successfully relaxes you in times of intense hardship.
We hope the information here has demonstrated how recovery and meditation go hand in hand. Why not give us a shot and let us know how it goes?
Now we'd love to hear from you!
Have you tried meditating in the past? How did you find it?
Get in touch to let us know! And be sure to contact us for more information on recovery from alcoholism.