Try Meditation for Help with Addiction or Depression

Many people who suffer with depression become addicted to drugs; drug abusers and addicts often become depressed. It can be a vicious cycle leaving individuals, friends and family frustrated and suffering from feelings of hopelessness.

It can be incredibly difficult for addicts to remain sober if they suffer from untreated depression. Relapse is often the result. Yet there is hope. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help reduce the relapse into heavy drinking and drug use compared to counseling and discussion therapy. After one year, participants who were involved with self-awareness improvement taught through training in meditation sessions were at a reduced risk for drug use or heavy drinking. These results indicate that mindfulness may have an enduring effect.

“We need to consider many different approaches to addiction treatment. It’s a tough problem,” said study researcher Sarah Bowen, an assistant professor at the University of Washington’s department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Mindfulness therapy is “another possibility for people to explore,” she said.

Mindfulness meditation sessions bring attention to feelings and cravings, helping make individuals become more aware of what is happening and give them a choice of how to react. Learning to accept uncomfortable feelings is a skill that can be applied to the temptations of addiction and other life situations where emotional distress needs to be controlled.

Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., said people with addiction often suffer from other conditions that involve problems regulating emotions, such as depression, anxiety or self-harm.

Meditation research has shown that some programs help in the treatment of depression. Longer and better-designed studies are needed to clarify the affects of mindfulness on mental health conditions like depression, and stress-related behaviors such as substance abuse and addiction, but initial results are promising.

The evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation programs could help reduce anxiety, depression and pain in some clinical populations,” the researchers, from Johns Hopkins University, wrote in the Jan. 6 issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. “Thus, clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress.”

For more than seven decades, since the inception of 12-step programs, meditation has been a tool addicts have used to prevent relapse and improve their lives. Now we know that meditation helps more than just addiction, but other psychological issues as well. Learning to meditate to help cope with how you feel physically and mentally can be a step in the direction of a healthier life. Young and old alike can benefit from learning to pay attention to their mind and body, moment to moment, in purposeful self-awareness. Perhaps meditation is a tool not only for the ill or distressed, but for everyone.



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