Meditation and Drug Addiction

Meditation is a practice that has gained more and more attention in recent years for the countless ways it is said to improve many aspects of a person’s life. One of the many ways meditation can help is for those overcoming an addiction.

Meditation has been shown to affect several parts of the brain, particularly helping to relax the brain’s ‘fight or flight’ centre. If this part of the brain is more relaxed, people who would usually reach for a substance in an emotional situation are less likely to.

How It Works

When meditating the prefrontal cortex is stimulated, which is the part of the brain that helps you to think logically. The more active this is, the more it prevents people from making irrational decisions and allows more control over bad habits, making addicts less likely to relapse.

One of the things meditation does is it allows people to focus. For recovering addicts, stress is a difficult emotion that can often lead to substance abuse again, yet with meditation, this can be used instead to focus and calm down.

When in a calmer state they will feel more in control of their emotions and choices, and so will be less likely to depend on substances to make the feelings pass.

One type of meditation that is useful when overcoming addiction is mindfulness meditation. During this meditation, people can think about what urges them to depend upon a substance and reflect upon what they could do instead when they have cravings.

Other Benefits of Meditation 

It also helps people to become more self-accepting and self-aware, to handle stress well, lessens anxiety and helps keep difficult emotions under control. All of these traits are great for people who want to overcome an addiction.

Meditative exercises such as yoga also help a recovering addict as when they focus on their breathing it helps them to relax and relieves them of negative emotions.

Research has shown that a person who meditates has less of the stress hormone cortisol in their bloodstream, which is linked to a lower immune system and greater mental and physical problems. Meditation also helps to increase the efficiency of the immune system directly as it improves the level of interleukin in the body – meaning you have more energy.

With a better immune system it is easier for your body to get rid of toxins. There is a strong theory of the mind-body connection that demonstrates how having a healthier body, with fewer toxins, is closely connected and can greatly impact the state of the mind and mood. Having fewer toxins in the body can alter mood and make people feel better. For recovering addicts this helps reduce the chances of relapse.

Final Thoughts 

Meditation is a great tool to help overcome addiction because it is very effective and very easy to learn. It is also not too time consuming, as it’s not necessary to spend hours meditating for it to be effective. The benefits can be seen with just 20 minutes per day.

Mindfulness meditation can be done alone or in a group setting, allowing addicts to find support from others and share experiences.

Many people who struggle with addictions find it difficult to think straight and their thoughts loop, creating negative patterns in the brain, which is one of the many reasons why it’s so difficult to overcome an addiction.

But meditation helps people to see things more clearly, helps to break the loop and begins to reprogram the negative patterns in the brain, leaving positive ones in their wake, allowing the old impulses of addiction to be rewritten and ultimately helping addicts to overcome addiction. Meditation is a very powerful tool.

7 Ways to Stay Clean after Drug Addiction

Recovering from drug addiction is an on-going process that is greatly supported by making some lifestyle changes. Luckily, there are countless different tools available to add into your daily lifestyle that will help your recovery process be as successful as possible. Recovery can be a mentally, emotionally and physically taxing process so incorporating some, or all of the ways below, can greatly support you through this difficult time.

1. Meditation

Meditation has become the forefront of many scientific studies due to its purported benefits. Neuroscience is beginning to show just how meditation can help to rewire neural connectivity in the brain, overcoming old habits and ways of thinking, and leaving new, healthier ones in their place.

Meditation is, therefore, a great tool for recovering addicts. Offering not only a quiet space and time for you to calm your mind and reduce stress, but actively helping you maintain and improve the good work you’ve done to get clean, and stay clean.

2. Yoga

Yoga is another great discipline to greatly reduce stress, which is often the greatest trigger for substance abuse. Yoga and Meditation offer similar benefits and are great when combined together, but of course, the beauty of yoga is that it provides a whole host of mental benefits at the same time as physical benefits too.

Studies on Yoga have shown its effectiveness in reducing depression and anxiety when partaken on a regular basis. Yoga can greatly help to release negative, stored emotions from the body and promote emotional stability and strength, as well as keeping the body physically healthy and promote physical healing too.

3. Healthy Eating

food-salad-healthy-vegetablesNutrition is so important for physical health and is more closely linked to mental health than many realise. By choosing to fuel your body with clean, nourishing foods, your mind benefits too. Clean body, clean mind as the saying goes. It’s difficult to have one without the other.

Bringing mindfulness to what you put into your body in terms of food also helps propagate a sense of mindfulness towards choosing not to put destructive substances in your body either. On that note, it’s also best not to consume coffee or tobacco during your recovery either.

Sticking to a set schedule of meals per day can also be highly useful, especially if you experience a lack of appetite, having a set schedule can ensure you’re providing your body with enough energy and nutrients until you become more in tune with your body and accustomed to eating when you are actually hungry.

4. Volunteering

helping-othersKeeping busy is a useful approach to take in order to avoid relapsing. Volunteering can be a great way to occupy yourself and the benefits work two ways. Not only are you helping yourself, but you are helping others too, and the sense of reward and purpose you can experience from giving your free time to help others is a fantastic fuel for feeling good about yourself.

5. Sleep Well

Getting adequate and restful sleep is so important to your recovery. Again, techniques like yoga and meditation are well-known for supporting restful sleep. Other great tools to use can be subliminal audio tracks for insomnia and anxiety, binaural beats and EMDR tracks all have high rates of success too.

6. Exercise

Any form of exercise is excellent for recovery. Stimulating your body to release natural endorphins and ‘happy’ chemicals in the brain helps to overcome depression, stress, and anxiety, whilst also promoting a greater sense of self-esteem as you feel fitter, stronger and practice your mental determination.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469

7. New Social Circles

friends

As you undertake these new changes to your lifestyle, meeting a new group of friends is a great way to join a community as your ‘new self’. Remaining in older social circles often makes it more difficult to change and brings more resistance and hurdles to overcome. Starting afresh, with a clean slate, can be an incredibly refreshing and exciting experience, allowing you to design the person you want to be.