Addiction is a common problem in today’s world. Over 21 million U.S adults reported being addicted to drugs in 2014, and that number only continues to rise. Behavioral addictions such as compulsive phone use or gambling also affect millions of people every year.
Luckily, modern medicine has given us diverse ways of overcoming addiction. One of the best steps an individual can take to overcome their addiction is to practice mindful meditation.
Read on for all the ways meditation is a useful tool to overcome addiction!
1. Meditation Naturally Releases Endorphin
Addiction comes not from the actual substance or behavior, but from the flood of endorphins our brains release. Scientists studying the brains of addicts found that the “happiness center” of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, was hyper-stimulated during intoxication.
Meditation produces the same effect in our brains without the need for damaging substances. Studies on the effects of meditation found that meditation changes brain structure to increase density in the prefrontal cortex. This means that practicing regular meditation makes us “naturally high”!
2. Meditation Increases Self-Awareness
Addiction often stems from deeper issues in life. Perhaps an addict feels out of control, or unfulfilled in life. Most people drift through life on autopilot without stopping to consider their deepest desires.
Meditation resets this mindset and helps recovering addicts find the root of their problem. Even after the physical addiction is gone, meditation solves the emotional or physiological issues that lie beneath. Consider a wholistic center like Clear Sky Recovery for therapy and meditation practice.
3. Meditation Reduces Stress Levels
A common theme for many addicts is using drugs or behaviors as an escapism habit to run away from excess stress. However, the shame and consequences of being addicted increase stress, so it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle.
Meditation reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your brain. Even better, over time meditation affects your central nervous system, reducing the amount of stress you feel to begin with. Meditation both reduces the stress your brain produces, and helps addicts cope with stress healthily. Win-win!
4. Meditation Boosts Confidence
Addicts know that the worst part of addiction is not the physical pain, but the emotional damage caused by the shame of addiction and social isolation. Recovering addicts find themselves in an unhealthy place when it comes to self-esteem.
As meditation improves your overall mood, it boosts feelings of self-acceptance and confidence. Everyone struggling with addiction needs to be patient with themselves, and meditation helps with that.
5. Meditation Improves Your Resilience
It takes strength and willpower to start the tough road of recovery. Breaking free of an addiction requires endless self-discipline and a resilient mindset. This is the hardest skill to develop for recovering addicts who have used substances or behaviors as crutches for months or years.
Research has shown that regularly practicing meditation increases natural resilience and reduces the amount of relapses recovering addicts go through.
6. Meditation Regulates Your Mood
A key part of recovery is the ability to remain consistent, even through changing moods. For addicts, drugs or behaviors became a crutch to manage negative emotions. When in recovery, if you don’t find a new way to regulate emotions the urge to relapse becomes too strong.
Meditation physically restructures your brain to better regulate your mood. After only weeks of meditating, patients in a study were recorded to have greater density in areas of the brain responsible for regulating emotions. Essentially, meditation reduces the frequency and strength of negative emotions.
7. Meditation Manages Urges
When you have an addiction, people experience incredibly strong urges to satisfy their craving. Addicts describe feeling out of control and powerless to control the urge. Those urges follow addicts even through recovery, and humans have limited willpower.
Through meditation, you learn “urge-surfing”. In essence, urge-surfing allows you to acknowledge your urges without giving them any power. Meditation detaches you from your thoughts and emotions. You simply observe your urges coming and going like a wave.
While meditation shouldn’t be the only tool used to conquer addiction, it is absolutely a powerful help for many people.