Mind-body medicine in addiction recovery

As the craving abates, she may choose to not fill the prescription, use a non-opioid pain reliever, and attend the exercise therapy class for social support even if she cannot participate physically in the exercises. Researchers and clinicians have begun to explore mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for intervening in SUDs and relapse prevention. Evidence supporting the efficacy of MBIs as an intervention for SUDs and for relapse prevention is growing. A recent systematic review from Sancho et al16 included 54 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) targeting either substance or behavioral addictions. Little is known about the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness as a treatment for addiction. Though various conceptual models have been advanced [22, 23, 73], few tests of these specific neural hypotheses have been conducted.

The holistic healing modality helps relieve withdrawal symptoms and anxiety while regulating and promoting a more substantial stress threshold. In addition, it helps you maintain a path of recovery with meditation to focus on overcoming triggers by releasing natural dopamine. Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a practice of developing positive feelings, first toward yourself and then toward others. Metta increases positivity, empathy, and compassionate behavior toward others. People also use the practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance. Although it’s well known as a technique to reduce stress and anxiety, research shows that it may also help enhance your mood, promote healthy sleep patterns, and boost cognitive skills.

May help fight addictions

Instead of responding or reacting to those thoughts or feelings, you aim to note them and let them go. Though you may not be able to eradicate the roots of stress, you can minimize its effects on your body. One of the easiest and most achievable stress-relieving techniques is meditation, a program in which you focus your attention inward to induce a state of deep relaxation. It can be a powerful wellness tool with a wide range of benefits, but that doesn’t mean that it is right for everyone.

  • The attention piece is about tuning into your experiences to focus on what’s happening in the present moment.
  • Beyond the positive effects of meditation when it comes to addiction, the main question this article is contending with is whether or not we can be addicted to meditation.
  • Thus little data exists to either support or refute the neural mechanistic models proposed in this section.
  • However, much of the research on these topics has been preliminary or not scientifically rigorous.
  • Studies examining the effects of mindfulness or meditation on acute and chronic pain have produced mixed results.

Extant MBIs designed specifically to intervene in SUD and relapse prevention differ somewhat from first-generation MBIs in their emphasis, didactic content delivered, duration of home mindfulness practice, and style of debriefing. Modern MBIs for addiction typically provide standard focused attention and open monitoring meditations, as well as mindfulness exercises specifically tailored to address substance craving and substance use habits. Below, we discuss general clinical principles for using MBIs to intervene in SUD and prevent relapse. From this perspective, MBIs can been seen as behavioral strategies for strengthening the integrity of prefrontally-mediated cognitive control networks that have become atrophied by chronic drug use and hijacked by drug-related cues and cravings during the process of addiction. As adaptive cognitive control is restored through mindfulness exercises, MBIs may increase functional connectivity between these top-down prefrontal networks and bottom-up limbic-striatal brain circuitry involved in reward processing and motivated behavior [22]. Increased connectivity between top-down and bottom-up brain networks implicated in addiction (e.g., frontostriatal circuitry) may provide the physiological substrate through which mindfulness de-automatizes addictive behavior.


If you or someone you know is experiencing addiction, please reach out and seek the advice of an expert. Within just a week or two of regular meditation, you should see a noticeable change in your mood and stress level. «People will start to feel some inner peace and inner poise, even in the midst of their busy lives,» says Lennihan.

  • When going through residential or outpatient drug treatment and using meditation, you have the chance to resolve unresolved issues and focus on the root cause of the substance use to progress your healing journey further.
  • An approach to treatment known as mindfulness-based relationship enhancement (MBRE) has been shown to help improve partner acceptance, relationship satisfaction, empathy, and well-being.
  • When meditation puts you back into the driver seat of your mind, urges downgrade to just another thought, powerless to manipulate you in any way.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy integrates mindfulness practices with aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy. Meditation is a powerful yet simple technique with many health benefits, addiction meditation including reducing stress and anxiety. Due to the impactful effects of meditation, it has become more available in both substance abuse and general wellness circles as a form of therapy.

#1 — Meditation Makes Us Feel Good Naturally Through The Brain’s Happiness Center

Other studies have looked at the effects of meditation or mindfulness on weight control or sleep quality. If you’re in professional addiction treatment, you can consult with your care team to incorporate meditation into your treatment and even learn advanced skills. Building new skills does not happen quickly, so patience while learning and practicing this new coping technique is essential. All meditation involves being mindful (or present in the moment), but mindfulness meditation emphasizes this. In mindfulness meditation, the person works to build his or her awareness of the current situation.

The more we do so, the more the thoughts that we deny or avoid become more visible. Eventually, the effects of these uncomfortable thoughts will lessen, but at first it might not be easy. Sitting in discomfort with challenging emotions and thoughts can be difficult even for longtime practitioners. Meditation may not feel good for you because you don’t feel relaxed or at peace when you practice.

As a point of consideration, 12-Step programs encourage participation in regular meetings for the entirety of one’s life. Similarly, mindfulness might need to be practiced daily or nearly every day on an ongoing basis to achieve durable therapeutic effects and maintain addiction recovery, especially in view of the chronicity of addictive disorders. For instance, MBI non-responders might need a supplementary course of motivational enhancement therapy, computerized cognitive remediation, or booster sessions (see “The Need for Dose/Response Research” below) to enhance outcomes. The MOST research process could allow for resource-intensive and complex MBIs to be pared down to their most efficacious elements to maximize efficacy and efficiency by eliminating techniques that do not confer therapeutic benefits and augmenting those that do. The most prominent MBIs (i.e., MBRP, MORE, mindfulness training for smokers) for addiction were modeled after the first generation of mindfulness-based therapies like MBSR and MBCT in terms of their structure and format.

why does meditation help addiction

Alternatively, consider setting your alarm a few minutes early to take advantage of quiet time in the morning. This may help you develop a consistent habit and allow you to start the day positively. If you want to start meditating, try choosing a form of meditation based on what you want to get out of it.