The two primary ways of treating addiction problems are behavioural and pharmacological therapies. The former is our concern here. Vital to understanding behavioural treatment is realizing the benefits of mindfulness meditation in addiction treatment.
Behavioural therapies work their ways from outside to locate triggers that lead to drug use. When found, an attempt is made to switch these triggers off or instill a different reaction.
If you think behavioural therapies include unlocking chakras to attain sublime freedom, you’re right. It seems impossible, but it is most important in long-term addiction management to prevent relapse.
In this blog, we will help you define the meaning of mindfulness for addiction treatment. Furthermore, we will explore the amazing benefits of mindfulness meditation in addiction treatment.
Why Mindfulness Therapy is Important
If behavioural therapy was a whole, mindfulness would represent about 70% of it. Here’s why:
- All addiction problems have an emotional origin. You either start using because you’re scared, anxious, angry, threatened, pressured, or depressed.
- You birth these emotions from a place of unhealthy desire. Ronald Alexander – a top psychologist, describes this state as a “wanting mind”. A severe lack of satisfaction and fulfillment in your present life characterizes it. You constantly find yourself thinking about what could have been if you took some steps you didn’t take some 5, 10, or 15 years ago. How better your life could have been; how you could be riding the fastest cars and more.
- The wanting mind sucks you into the vacuum of the fantasy world you want to live in. Trust life to constantly splash the cold water in your face, pulling you back into what you believe is a harsh reality.
- The constant back and forth between the two worlds you’ve managed to build for yourself affects you. The anger, frustration, pressure, and depression are factors that push you into using.
- You don’t even see these things coming. It is neither easy to look back head-deep in addiction and locate the source of the problem.
- Here’s where mindfulness meditation comes in.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
The benefits of mindfulness/meditation during addiction treatment are immense. However, the best part is that the practice is very straightforward, yet amazingly powerful. Essentially, it’s a series of cognitive-behavioural therapies that help you become mindful of the unhealthy emotions that trigger addiction.
The same emotions that trigger an addiction sustain them. When you find them, mindfulness meditation helps you loosen your grasp and let go. This is the only real, lasting way to the freedom that you crave. It doesn’t just help you break free from the powers of addiction. It also enables you to live your best life in the present reality.
What makes us human, if not our ability to desire? Even the present world we live in was borne out of a cumulation of desires from different people, at different times. We’re beneficiaries of the change these people wanted.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with longing for a better future. What’s unhealthy is mindlessly wishing to change the past, and believe the future is not worth experiencing.
Mindfulness Meditation and the Brain
One of the benefits of mindfulness for addiction treatment is increased control. With mindfulness meditation, you have control over the behaviours you before-hand excused as ‘natural.’ You subject yourself to an unparalleled level of discipline, by consciously learning trained behaviours.
Mindfulness meditation debunks scientific claims that the brain’s plasticity suffers after childhood. Sarah Lazar is a renowned researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital. Time and over again, she has proved how mindfulness meditation re-wires the brain. In one of her researches, she proved that mindfulness meditation is associated with increased cortical thickness and denser gray matter.
Your bilateral, prefrontal right insular region is not left out. Never mind the complexity of the name. It’s the region of your brain that commands optimism, general well-being, an amazing sense of creativity, and curiosity. This part of your brain also improves your observation power as to how your mind works. Interesting, isn’t it?
Here’s the best part: the benefits of mindfulness meditation for addiction treatment that you get as a beginner can match those of folks who have been practicing several years. All it takes is a few hours every day. It’s a small price to pay for a free, transformed life.
Mindfulness meditation takes you on a journey of self-discovery. And it is not always pleasant.
Ignorance is bliss. So, sometimes, we put up serious defence mechanisms when it’s time to open that chapter of our lives. We want to know nothing, yet somehow need to know everything. These defences belittle the consequences of your addiction problem and make you believe that you might not need to change. And change is difficult.
When you feel like you’ve struck a nerve, take special notes, and tell your counsellor/psychologist about it. Break those strongholds, and you stand an actual shot at freedom.
Related article: Addiction Treatment Services: What are Your Options?
Mindfulness Meditation and Your Hormones
In the previous section, we show how mindfulness and meditation can rewire the brain and behavioural patterns. But there’s more to the benefits of mindfulness for addiction treatment.
There’s more science to mindfulness meditation than its relationship with the brain. Triggering the parasympathetic nervous system in the brain will reduce the circulation of some hormones too.
Cortisol is the hormone your body produces whenever you’re either mentally or physically stressed. Cortisol significantly weakens your immune system, causing an eventual breakdown. Then, you must rest. See? The body always collects!
Nonetheless, cortisol and adrenaline are hormones that are key in generating appropriate responses to dangerous situations. When in excess amounts in the body, however, they could cause serious problems.
Here’s another critical benefit of mindfulness meditation in addiction treatment: when you mindfully meditate, you immensely reduce the concentration of cortisol in your blood.
Consequently, you boost your immunity and equip your body with powers to fight withdrawal symptoms during the detoxification process.
How to To Do Mindfulness Meditation
During addiction treatment, you can harness the benefits of mindfulness meditation in 4 easy steps:
- Get comfy: In a quiet place, sit upright in a cushion. Rest your head and shoulders comfortably, and place your hands on your legs.
- Breathe: Do what keeps you alive, but only with more intention and consciousness. Savour every breath; feel every chest movement.
- Focus: It’s hard to only focus on your breathing, but it’s what you must do. It’s good to notice other thoughts trying to infiltrate your space. Don’t give them a second of your attention time. If it helps your focus, count your breaths.
Religiously do this for 20 minutes every day to enjoy maximum effect. You don’t even have to do it alone. At addiction treatment centers in Canada, there’s a small community of people like you and an expert tutor to guide you.
The benefits of mindfulness meditation in addiction treatment are many. It promotes every fibre of your being that exudes grace, optimism, compassion, confidence, and all the positive emotions in the world (all these usually originate from the left side of the brain).
It does all this while simultaneously depressing negative emotions like fear, anger, anxiety, and hatred. So, does mindfulness help with addiction treatment? There’s only one way to find out – try it!
Mindfulness meditation demands your intention, consistency, and discipline. Other people’s lives have changed before their eyes. Yours won’t be an anomaly. Don’t belittle its simplicity; instead, embrace its power.
Are you having addiction problems? Are you suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms? Have you failed at an attempted mindfulness meditation because you find it abstract? Use our in-patient addiction rehab for the best care and guidance in Canada and the USA. Call 1000 Islands Addiction Rehab & Treatment Centre for addiction treatment programs.
Related article: What is Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment?