One of the most successful treatments in addiction therapy is one that involves teaching people how to identify and change thinking habits in order to alter behavior. New computer models suggest adding meditation can result in better results. Studies are great, but the reality is that people can benefit from meditation in treatment and recovery to support their journey, in both big and small ways.
Drugs and Reward System
When a person uses drugs it unbalances the system in a way that interrupts normal flow of the reward system function. As a reward system stresses, it becomes incapable of achieving balance. The anti-reward system kicks in to remedy the situation. The person reaches what is called an allopathic state. Drug use impacts multiple brain functions and the person’s ability to reassess their own drug use becomes difficult.
In studies about drug use and meditation, theory suggests meditation may help restore homeostatis of the body. In the studies, a virtual participant takes a drug for the first time, abstains, then relapses. This results in a negative impact on mood and no intervention occurs. In a second case study, the virtual participant wears a nicotine patch for 25 days. Negative mood results in spite of receiving the same variables as in the first study. Researchers compared the studies with those who wore a nicotine patch and received meditation treatment to simulate differences in cognitive outcome.
Finding people with whom to study this theory would be helpful outside of a study. The issue becomes whether a person with addiction is willing or able to practice meditation to support recovery. Perhaps that person struggles with mental health issues or behavioral disorders which make it hard to focus and concentrate for long periods of time. In this case, that person may benefit from doing it in shorter bursts throughout the day rather than an hour-long session, for instance. Trying to force the mind to do something long periods of time at first is not of benefit to anyone, especially the person doing it.
How to Meditate
The challenge of meditation is just getting started. A person who is in treatment for addiction or in recovery can benefit if they know some of the tools to get started:
- Find a quiet spot to sit at some point during the day (early on is best)
- Find a comfortable way to sit for five minutes to start with
- Explore a timer to keep focused on meditation
- Join a group or others who are practicing meditation and mindfulness
- Clear the mind and let anything go as it enters the mind
- Don’t judge or shame yourself if you struggle
When a person starts of with meditation, it can be easy to judge or shame yourself for not ‘getting it right.’ there is no right or wrong way, only the way you do it for yourself. Find what works for you and just do it. If you feel a little better after, you might have just found the ticket you were looking for to calm your mind and bring some peace to your life, if only for that moment. The key is now to incorporate it into your life more often so you can bring that peace into your life on a consistent basis.
Offering a full continuum of care for both men and women, A Step In The Right Direction strives to provide quality, life-changing care. Teaching clients to walk the road of recovery in daily life sober living, our program utilizes evidence-based therapies and the real life experience of recovery in our staff to provide a transformational expeirence. For more information on our programs of care and sober livings for men and women, call (877) 377-3702