It has been known for a while now that meditation can do wonders for stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep. But what about helping someone battling addiction? In addition to a customized treatment plan, meditation can help with substance abuse relief in fighting the symptoms of withdrawal, triggers, and cravings. Find out how meditation therapy for substance abuse can help you or your loved one.
First Thing’s First—What Is Meditation?
Meditation involves focusing or clearing your mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques. This practice is thousands of years old, and different forms come from countries around the world. It may seem that meditation simply involves breathing or repeating a sound over and over. However, modern science has shown that a lot goes on inside the brain during the process. EEG and fMRI scans show that meditation can affect your brain and mental health in a surprisingly positive way.
What Is Meditation Therapy for Substance Abuse?
This is a simple technique that has many health benefits. Some of the most obvious ones are stress and anxiety reduction. It is no wonder, then, that it has been of great benefit to patients recovering from substance abuse.
The goal of meditation is to train in awareness and get a healthy sense of perspective. It is about observing your thoughts without judgment. In this way, we learn how to understand those thoughts better. And that is where the healing begins. Synchronizing the mind and body can bring on improved mental well-being and a higher quality of life.
For those experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, meditation can be a powerful technique. It also helps with insomnia, reduces brain activity, increases strength, and lowers the risk of a relapse.
Meditation Therapy and Withdrawal
Those battling substance abuse may deal with several withdrawal-related symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, or depression. Meditation therapy for substance abuse can help the individual calm the nervous system. This improves the overall quality of sleep, whether suffering from insomnia or not. In turn, in those moments of wakefulness, we experience better moods.
Substance abuse may not be the only thing a person is battling. In addition to the addiction, patients may have additional diagnoses, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Those dealing with emotionally imbalanced thoughts can learn to notice those thoughts and observe them without affection. This allows one to reclaim control over their impulses in an active way.
Types of Exercises Used for Substance Abuse
Meditation exercises are simple, do not require any physical preparedness or ability, and can be done anywhere. It seems easy, right? Once this is established, though, the tricky part begins. Sitting quietly and breathing may sound like a walk in the park, but it is quite difficult for most people to sit still and relax, especially when they are going through substance abuse therapy. This is where we introduce the word “guided.”
The meditation sessions are guided by someone with experience in the field until it becomes a comfortable place for one to return to on their own. Guided meditation therapy for substance abuse would involve:
- Controlled breathing, where one focuses on inhaling and exhaling
- Muscle relaxation, where each individual muscle is progressively relaxed
- Training the mind to shift focus from the thoughts running free
Rehabilitation Is Not the Same for Everyone
Since we all have different backgrounds, circumstances, and reasons for turning to substance abuse, we may also need personalized treatments. Some people are able to drop everything and check into a rehabilitation facility. Others may not have that privilege.
Depending on your profession, you want to ensure you get the right help for you. For instance, getting personalized rehab for professionals may be what you need if you are a doctor, lawyer, or politician that requires discretion. Typically, these sessions will be held separately from other patients to ensure privacy. There, a professional can participate in meditation therapy for substance abuse without fear of judgment or all eyes being on them.
Top Benefits of Meditation for Substance Abuse
It is worth mentioning that these benefits can be applied to anyone needing help in particular areas of their lives. Although our focus is on substance abuse, meditation improves our minds and bodies no matter what we are dealing with.
Name one person in your life who is not dealing with some form of anxiety on a daily basis. It seems impossible because of the rising demands of our professional and personal lives. During stressful events, we may not be able to manage our thoughts and emotions. That is where anxiety sets in. For those battling substance abuse, even a mild disturbance can trigger bouts of anxiety that are extremely difficult to manage. Meditation can teach those in need to find a place of calm that they can return to whenever they experience anxiety.
Improved mental health
Substance abuse is often paired with mental health issues. Some of them could be depression, ADHD, OCD, etc. Meditation teaches the brain to maintain focus when the symptoms of mental illness set in. This way, they become more manageable and cause less distress to those struggling.
Reduced blood pressure
As with anxiety, meditation can help those with various forms of high blood pressure. A study has shown that older adults with systolic hypertension were able to control their blood pressure using meditation techniques. You would be surprised to learn that, on top of that, their meditation technique helped them reduce and even eliminate their medications.
There is no such thing as a magic cure for addiction treatment. It is undoubtedly a long road full of struggles and challenges. However, undergoing meditation therapy for substance abuse can certainly mitigate many symptoms one can experience in the process. In addition to meditation, patients often combine it with yoga, physical therapy, mindfulness practice, and various forms of physical activities. The imperative in any recovery is refocusing and finding new purposes to reestablish one’s sense of self-worth. And if using five to ten minutes of meditation as one of those techniques is an option, why not give it a try?