The Need For Meditation During Addiction Recovery
Meditation is a great tool in fighting addiction but it’s important not to mistake it as a magic key that can take addiction away. When done correctly as part of the recovery process, however, its effect can be magical.
The goal of an addiction recovery therapy is to fight the irrevocable cravings for the addictive substance. The intense craving addicts feel is often hard to describe. It’s the kind of cravings where the addict’s life seems to depend on it – and sometimes do. It’s often said that an addict would crawl through broken glass and nails to reach for the addictive substance – and it’s true.
It’s this sort of cravings that mindfulness meditation can help fight.
How It Helps
The first step towards dealing with addiction is finding the emotional trigger. It could be fear, anxiety, loss, or pessimism. This is often caused by what is referred to as the “wanting mind” – a state where people believe the cause of their problem is a lack of something. They may feel they would be happier if they had more money, love, loyalty, a better job, power, recognition and other things they had or strongly desire.
A wanting mind could also be due to holding extreme anger, jealousy, sadness or wishing for what could have been or had been. The triggers are numerous and unique in each case, but the consequence is often a recourse to an unhealthy addictive habit.
Mindfulness meditation enables the person focus on the issue, see it clearly, and gradually learn to let go and live fully in the present.
The meditation also reveals tough areas of resistance and the patient is gradually guided to make a conscious rejection of such points of resistance.
A wanting mind is natural as humans normally desire something better. And even the craving for a healthier lifestyle is also a sort of want. What meditation does is help detach the patient from unhealthy wants.
The patient is gradually able to see his/her wants and impulse from a third person point of view. There becomes a psychic distance between, for example, needing a drink or a drug and taking one.
It Doesn’t Have To Be Spiritual
Meditation is a spiritual exercise and most practitioners encourage the patient to try and establish a connection with a Higher Power. It’s rooted in a spiritual tradition, and if you had any belief in God or a Higher Power, it would help a great deal to reconnect during meditation.
However, it’s not a prerequisite and there are lots of secular meditations that are not spiritually inclined and the focus is on mindfulness.
Is It Effective?
Meditation as a means of curing addiction is not new. There have always been reports of its effectiveness but since it wasn’t backed by scientific studies, its effectiveness was regarded as anecdotal.
However, recent scientific studies of its role, such as the one conducted by University of Wisconsin's department of Family Medicine, show that it plays a role in preventing relapse. Meditation is now gaining mainstream attention and it’s now been incorporated into addiction recovery programs. It’s not a stand-alone practice, but an important one in ensuring that the recovering addict is able to avoid relapse and gain firmer control of their life.