For anyone struggling with an addiction, meditation can be a powerful tool. It can be used to pinpoint addictive behaviors and curb cravings before they start. It can help you build your life in a way that makes it easier to handle your addiction.
Maintaining a regular meditation practice even increases your chances of remaining “clean,” no matter what that means to you.
Concrete Ways Meditation Can Ease the Burden of Addiction
Studies have shown that a program including meditation may be useful to an addict.
- Recognize Your Addiction – If you’re not sure what you are experiencing is an actual addiction, meditation can help you take an unbiased look at your behavior. Acknowledging that you have an addiction and deciding that you need help to face it are stressful. Meditation can help you manage that stress and stay strong.
- Resist Your Cravings – Being able to take a step back and center yourself can help you resist cravings. Meditation can lead to an increase in self-awareness, and it may also be easier to keep yourself out of situations that may trigger your addictive behaviors.
- Prevent Future Addictions – Once you feel you have conquered whatever addiction you are going through now, you have to remain vigilant. One addiction can lead to another. An alcoholic can become a compulsive shopper or vice versa. It can be tempting, psychologically, to fall into a pattern like this. Having a regular meditation practice can help you monitor your behavior.
Meditation can prevent cravings in another way, too- by providing your brain with dopamine.
Dopamine is the same chemical that is typically released when an addict engages in their activity of choice. Meditation can do that, too. Just in a slower, more natural way.
Meditation is Not “One Size Fits All”
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of meditations types and practices. You don’t have to just sit still in a silent room; you can meditate with a partner or even try walking meditation.
Finding the best meditation practice for you could be a long process, and that’s okay. It will give you a something to focus on.
When you’re first starting out, it’s okay to start very small, too. If you like the idea of meditating the traditional way but find it hard to keep up, start with just 30 seconds.
Move up to a minute. Keep adding time when you feel you can handle it. Just having the habit is enough to make small changes for the better.
Beyond that, make sure you’re comfortable. One of the most natural mistakes to make is to think that meditation was designed to be uncomfortable – that your discomfort is some penance. So, choose a position you feel comfortable in. Lie down and grab a pillow. Stand up and pace around the room. Whatever you need to do to focus, go ahead and try it.
Even though the first meditation method your try might not seem like the right fit, don’t be discouraged- there will be a way that suits you. The benefits of meditating and being more mindful will start to accumulate whether you’re beginning to enjoy meditation or not.
Meditation as a First Step to Mindfulness
While meditation itself is a useful tool for addiction recovery, it’s also the most frequent first step to a wholly mindful lifestyle.
“Mindfulness” is merely being present and aware of your current state and surroundings, while not allowing your thoughts or emotions to drag you in any particular direction. Being mindful will enable you to remain centered and put your priorities first, above what your addiction calls you to do.
Mindfulness and the practice of meditation will not only give you the tools to reign in your addiction when times are hard, but it can help you make the most of your day to day life. If you can remain mindful, it can help keep depression and anxiety at bay thus allowing you to accomplish more and achieve the life you have always wanted.
Meditation is a Support, Not a Cure
Meditation can help you through your initial drug detox. It can also help you stay clean longer. However, meditation should only be part of your new, healthier lifestyle. It’s not meant to be a cure-all.
That said, the more you put into your meditation practice, the more you’ll get out of it. Joining a meditation group can help you improve other areas of your life as well.
How do you know when to consider a drug detox? If your addiction is strong enough to interrupt your life and endanger your health, you know it’s time to get help. Going through a drug detox alone is not only harder, but it can also be life-threatening.