Why is meditation an effective part of an addiction treatment plan?
The unassuming and ancient practice of meditation can be a powerful component to any addiction treatment plan. Getting clean is a messy business fraught with emotional and physical pain which needs to be dealt with a new and less destructive way. Meditation is an excellent tool to add to your recovery tool kit and is pretty easy to start.
As addiction takes hold, it limits the ways you have to deal with the challenges of life until using drugs and alcohol becomes your answer to everything – good or bad. Successful addiction recovery treatment teaches a variety of life skills to replace unhealthy coping strategies and an assortment of alternative practices have proven to be very effective in helping to facilitate this. Meditation is just one of these, we could also add yoga, acupuncture and massage to this list too.
If you want to turn away from a life of addiction and destruction, then you can! It may seem impossible in the early days when you are dealing with intense cravings and a roller-coaster of emotions. BUT there is hope and you can recover, by engaging with some simple practices.
Meditation and a racing mind
One of the things that many addicts suffer from is a racing mind that catapults backwards and forwards through the past and the future catastrophizing and sometimes even spinning out on scenarios that haven’t even happened yet. People suffering from drug and alcohol dependency often blame their use of substances on this, and say they use because: “it shuts my head up”. Finding new ways to deal with the monkey mind is an absolute necessity for addiction recovery treatment and the practice of meditation is just one of the tools that can be employed.
Meditation made easy
Meditation is a very useful tool for dealing with this kind of scattered mental focus. Moreover, it’s actually pretty easy to learn and can be incorporated into your daily life with great ease. In fact, you could start right after you read this article. When we learn how to meditate we learn to focus on one single thing. This might be your breath, a manta or the flame of a candle and you can even meditate mindfully using a square of chocolate. The idea is to be in the moment with yourself, your body and the sensations you feel. The breath is one of the most popular things to focus on and its rhythm and quality have important consequences for our mental and emotional state. If you can control the breath, you can control the mind.
Sit or lie still and observe the sensations in your body as well as your emotions. Most importantly don’t be too hard on yourself if you start thinking about what you are going to make for dinner or how you are going to get home. Meditation, especially for the recovering addict, is about not judging yourself too harshly if your mind does start racing. Just come back to the breath and try again because meditating is not a perfect art, it is a practice.
Addicts try to complicate a simple practice – It is really easy!
Addiction treatment centres often have a meditation session first thing in the morning before breakfast to help people get into this habit. Many clients come to the office asking for more information about the art of meditation and are very concerned that they are not doing it properly. Just sit comfortably and concentrate on the rhythm of your breath entering and leaving the body and you are meditating. With time and training, you can concentrate for longer and longer periods of time. When you start it’s going to seem difficult and unnatural but just keep trying, you are not doing it wrong.
Meditation helps addiction recovery
Meditation helps give you the time and space to step back from your thoughts and your feelings and realise that you are more than that. You can watch how your emotions come and go and it becomes apparent that everything passes both good and bad.
The simple practice of following the rhythm of your breath brings order to the chaos of the mind. Furthermore, this helps you to develop the skill of being able to watch your mind and observe stress from a different point of view, with more detachment. Repetitive actions like meditation actually help to build new neural pathways in the brain allowing addicts to respond in a more healthy way to troubling emotions and stress.
Choose an addiction recovery program that includes meditation
Once you recognise that addiction causes you problems in life you will want to do something about it. If you are reading this article the likelihood is that you someone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol. Please don’t despair, there is lots of help out there and initially, you might consider joining a self-help group or signing up to see a counsellor.
Inpatient rehab is another great option and at the Hader Clinic, we incorporate both meditation and yoga into our program. Our holistic approach to addiction treatment has been helping people get well and stay well since 1997. It is never too early or too late to seek help.
Whether you are a family member or the person with a substance issue you can all one of our experienced and friendly addiction specialists to find out how we can help.