Meditation for Addiction

by Balboa Horizons | March 28, 2016

Many addiction treatment centers are incorporating daily meditation into their treatment plans. Evidence has shown that meditation is useful for helping one observe thoughts and rewire brain structure. Both have proven useful for those trying to overcome addictions. Here’s how…

Discipline

From breath work to yoga there are many forms of sitting and moving meditations. The most basic is the act of sitting and observing one’s breath as it enters and exits the nostrils. This can be done for as little as 5 minutes or as much as 20. As one sits in the meditative state the mind will naturally wander to the sound of a car, thinking about what’s for dinner, the need to text someone back…you know the drill. When the mind wanders a meditator refocusses it back to observing the breath. This repeated practice builds a discipline of observing and controlling the mind.

Often addicts are so entrenched in their addictions that they are unaware of how their thoughts lead to harmful actions. The discipline to stop and observe these thoughts can stop the cycle before it starts.

Observing Thoughts

Frequently what leads an addict to use alcohol and drugs is the craving to soothe an uncomfortable emotion. Meditation helps an addict learn how to observe an emotion as it arises. Aware of the emotion they can then distinguish where it originated from and choose to either let it go or soothe it in a healthy way. This practice of observing thoughts can help an addict to stop a craving before it even starts.

Rewiring Brain Structure

Within each brain is a neural network that connects all of our experiences. As addicts have repeatedly reached for drugs and alcohol when they felt discomfort they wired their brain to create a strong association with emotion and soothing with a substance. However, meditation has proven able to rewire those neural networks in the brain to different responses. By observing thoughts and choosing different responses to those thoughts our brains are rewired out of the cycle of addiction and into self-observation, optimism, and well-being.

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