How Can Meditation Aid Addiction Recovery?
Meditation is an alternative approach to addiction recovery, but how does it help people and is it as effective as more traditional methods like counseling and psychotherapy?
Meditation has a spiritual history and many forms have developed through different cultures. Each form has a similar aim; to reach inner peace and detachment from overwhelming thoughts. Some forms of meditation acknowledge and embrace a higher power whereas others use visualisations to fill the mind which, in turn, leads of an emptiness and a peaceful state. These central objectives translate well into addiction meditation.
In addiction, it’s particularly used to minimise cravings. Someone using meditation to overcome cravings is taught to acknowledge and accept that that they are craving the drug or alcohol. They’re then taught that instead of giving into the urge, they are to experience the feeling, let it wash over them and feel it fade away. Breathing techniques are used during this experience to mimic the idea of riding over the feeling, like surfing over a wave or making it over the crest of a mountain. Breathing in and breathing out stand in for the sensations of moving up and moving down.
This is not necessarily proven to stop cravings but is used as a tool in a recovering addict’s day-to-day life to eventually overcome their addictions and is used in many modern day treatments such as an opiate detox. When they are experiencing cravings, they can turn to meditative teachings instead. They are recognised as a technique against relapse.
Meditation techniques help recovering addicts by putting distance between their addiction, the actions it causes and themselves. In meditation classes, students are taught to view their cravings through a third-person perspective visualisation. For an alcoholic, it puts space between them and their need to drink. They are then able to detach themselves from their addiction which helps them to overcome it. It is no longer seen as a part of them which can help eradicate it from themselves.
This helps in two ways, it detaches the addiction and gives the recovering addict time to process what they are going through. They are no longer immersed in their addiction.
Meditation also works well in conjunction with other, more traditional, therapies. It works well with addiction counselling as the peace found during meditation gives time for the recovering addict to think about their addiction and how to move on from it; this can help make therapy sessions more productive. It can also be used alongside rehabilitation back into normal life as, once the student understands meditative techniques, they can use them whenever they feel they need to detach themselves from their past struggles.
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