Alcoholism is one of the most popular forms of addiction and drug abuse in the United States. Over 15 million people over the age of 18 suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Only 6.7% of these people receive treatment for alcohol recovery.
Rehabilitation, therapy, and recovery groups are common treatment methods for those in recovery. However, there are other things you can try to help you during your alcohol recovery. Namely, meditation.
Meditation has a number of benefits for both your physical and mental health as you recover from an addiction to alcohol. Keep reading to learn about meditation and mindfulness techniques for addiction recovery.
What Is Meditation?
You don’t have to be a monk in the hills of the Alps in order to meditate. In fact, meditation has spread rapidly in recent years. Over 18 million people in the United States practice meditation daily.
Meditation is the practice of calming your mind, grounding yourself to the present moment, and clearing away any thoughts you’re having. During this time, you concentrate your mind on a specific idea, feeling, or thought.
How Does Meditation Work?
Meditation can be done in a few different ways for any amount of time. You can follow guided meditations with an app on your phone or a YouTube video on your computer. These will have someone speaking and instructing you on what to do.
You can also simply take 10 minutes to sit quietly and focus on calming your mind and focus on a particular thought or feeling.
Meditation for Alcohol Recovery: The Evidence
Meditation arose originally to be a way to connect to religion and spirituality. Today, many people use it for the number of physical and mental benefits it provides regardless of religious connection.
These benefits can make recovery an easier process. It will by no means make recovery easy: nothing can do that.
However, adding meditation to your recovery plan can help make it easier for you to be successful during recovery.
Helps Recovering Addicts
Studies have connected the practice of meditation to the success of recovering addicts. Let’s look at a few examples.
One study looked at intravenous drug users who were practicing meditation as part of their treatment plan. The participants rated whether certain alternative medicine techniques helped them during their recovery.
These addicts rated meditation as one of the most helpful methods that helped them recover.
Another study looked at the overall recovery of addicts who used meditation as part of their treatment plan versus those who didn’t. These researchers found that the participants who practiced meditation had significantly lower relapse rates.
This shows that meditation could have a large impact on overall alcohol recovery and that it could be a key part of a successful recovery.
Stress and Anxiety Relief
Stress and anxiety are two strong triggers that can push recovering addicts back into using or back to abusing alcohol. This is unfortunate considering the recovery process is wrought with stress and anxiety. This makes relapse not only common but also quite easy to fall into.
Many people start drinking in the first place as a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety. Replacing that unhealthy coping mechanism with a healthy one can help you be successful with your recovery.
Reduces Feelings of Depression
Depression and alcoholism are linked: a dual diagnosis of depression and alcoholism is common. Drinking is often used as a coping mechanism for depressive disorders. But the fact is that drinking makes things worse, not better. Not only that, but depression can make alcohol recovery harder and even lead to relapse.
Meditation practices can reduce feelings of depression. Not only that, but meditation can also:
- Boost your mood
- Reduce symptoms of depression
- Reduce the impact of depressive disorders in the long run
Reducing depressive symptoms can make recovery easier and more manageable.
There’s a reason why many recovery programs focus on connecting with a higher power. It allows addicts to see beyond their addiction and give up their power to something bigger than themselves.
This doesn’t have to be religious or theistic in nature. It can be accepting the higher power of nature, your family, your community, or whatever else.
Meditation was traditionally used to connect to the spiritual side of life, to higher powers, and to reach enlightenment. This spiritual connection to more than just yourself can be helpful during recovery.
Other Benefits of Meditation
There are other methods that could potentially give you the same (or similar) outcomes that meditation can. However, meditation has a few particular benefits that these other things can’t give you.
First of all, meditation can be done anywhere, at any time, and more any amount of time. If you’re feeling anxiety alone at home one night that’s making you want to drink, you can’t always go to a meeting or have a therapy session to help you. But, you can always meditate for a few minutes to calm yourself and focus your mind on not drinking.
Meditation is also free. Rehab and therapy aren’t accessible to everyone at all times. You can meditate anywhere at any time free of charge to get the benefits to promote recovery.
Recovery and Meditation: Wrapping Up
Meditation is a simple and easy practice that anyone can add to their recovery plan. It can make your recovery more manageable and give you an easy and immediate way to cope with stress, anxiety, and other struggles of recovery.
If you want more information about treatment and alcohol recovery plans, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can also answer any questions you have about recovery, whether that’s your own recovery or that of a loved one.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.