If you were thinking meditation was something for the spiritual you may want to think again. Meditation is finding its place among science, especially in the treatment of addiction. It may be time to start incorporating meditation into your recovery.
There is an approach to meditation better known as “mindfulness,” which simply teaches self-awareness. This kind of meditation is effective in preventing relapses on drugs and alcohol. The new study suggests that because mindfulness meditation aims to help people understand what drives their cravings, they can better deal with the discomfort they may be feeling.
Researchers at the University of Washington studied 286 people who had completed a substance abuse treatment, and they randomly assigned them to one of three groups: mindfulness meditation, a 12 step program and a traditional relapse prevention program.
They found a treatment program that incorporates mindfulness meditation was more effective in preventing relapses over the long term. On year after treatment about 9% of participants in the mindfulness program reported drug use, 14% in the 12-step program and 17 percent in a traditional program. About 8 percent of participants in the mindfulness program also reported heavy drinking after one year, compared with about 20 percent in the other two groups.
What Exactly is Meditation?
Meditation is associated with Eastern traditions, but is present in almost every world culture in some for. It is traditionally a part of spiritual practices in India, China, Japan, and other Eastern cultures. Western versions of meditation are usually more focused on relieving stress and relaxation.
There are many different meditation practices. Some focus on quieting and clearing out the mind in order to experience a deep sense of presence and connection to the spiritual world. Others bring the mind’s focus to a single, specific thought or intention.
How Meditation Helps Treat Addiction
The spiritual and self-directed aspects of meditation may be appealing to certain individuals, increasing the effectiveness of this approach to addiction treatment. One 2003 study of drug users noted that meditation and other complementary therapies were used more often and considered effective by individuals with higher education, lower self-perceptions of their health, and access to a regular doctor.
In addition, the mindfulness that accompanies meditation has shown to be more effective than behavioral strategies that encouraged avoiding thoughts of substance use. Such thoughts inevitably surface in recovery, and meditation may offer a method for awareness and acceptance of these thoughts. This, in turn, may limit the transformation of these thoughts into the action of substance use.
Do you use meditation in your recovery? If so how and why.