Many have long known through experience that meditation makes life better. And now, that fact is well-documented scientifically with impressive findings. For people in addiction recovery, the research is particularly promising. The effects of regular meditation can dramatically improve many of the residual effects of an addiction after detox.
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How Meditation Helps Heal the Brain After Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Early addiction recovery can bring about many difficulties such as depression, anxiety, mood instability, insomnia, poor focus, poor concentration and deficits in memory, learning, decision-making, problem-solving, stress management and behavioral control. Now a substantial body of research tells us that a meditation practice can help with all of that. If that sounds too good to be true, it isn’t, and rehab programs are increasingly on board, teaching meditation techniques and encouraging regular practice after treatment.
The key to meditation’s benefits for recovering people is that long after they feel, do and look better, the brain has still not completely healed from the toxic effects of active addiction. Hence, the common horror stories of relapse occurring ‘out of the blue’ when people seem to be doing very well in their recovery efforts. Meditation goes deep the brain’s difficulties and addresses them directly. Gains are quick and cumulative. The longer you maintain a meditation practice, the more benefits you will receive, however, significant gains are made with as little as two weeks of meditation.
Meditation Can Help Reverse the Neurology of Addiction
One of the most powerful aspects of meditation is its inherent undermining of addiction’s ‘brain habits’, or neurologically based patterns caused by active addiction and its toxicity. Meditation works to reverse a basic dynamic of addiction which is becoming repeatedly intoxicated, or repeatedly disconnected from ordinary and healthy brain functioning. This disconnection is also known as dissociation. When you meditate you will notice yourself becoming happier, and it is a positive way to start rebuilding your life and finding true happiness.
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Dissociation occurs when ordinary perception and consciousness is disrupted. It may be as mild as drifting off into a daydream or as profound as amnesia. Somewhere on that continuum of interrupted perception and consciousness lies the ‘goal’ of every substance abuser who seeks intoxication. And, repeated intoxication experiences ‘teach’ the brain to have many difficulties as it repeatedly dissociates or disconnects from ordinary functioning. These ‘brain lessons’ take time to unlearn.
The Benefits of Meditation are Pervasive
The brain’s reaction to addiction involve all realms of life eventually if compulsive drug use continues long enough. For example, we grow out of touch with our emotions and can lose the ability to regulate our impulses and emotional states … We perceive events, situations and our dealings with others through the lenses of altered perception and subsequent thinking errors … As anyone who has experienced or witnessed a severe addiction knows, eventually, the impairments are pervasive across life realms.
Meditation, on the other hand, helps us tune into our internal states and our environment, subsequently reconnecting us to healthier experiences as it ‘rewires’ the brain compromised by addiction. It not only takes us back to healthier brain functioning but also protects brain health over time, showing how rapidly the brain ages. Cognitive functioning improves as we exercise focus, attention and mindfulness in meditation, and moods improve and stabilize. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety and overall, improves our physical and psychological health. For people in recovery from substance abuse, all of these benefits are the result of meditation’s role in healing the brain after active addiction.
Practice Meditation When You Can
If you are recovering from substance abuse, meditation is a proven and effective supplement to your other recovery efforts. Just like you can’t read about mindfulness and suddenly become mindful, meditation takes actual practice. If you are still struggling, but ready to tackle a substance problem consider the benefits of an holistic drug rehab, as this treatment style has become very popular and effective. Holistic rehab centers can improve your mind body and soul as well as provide you with helpful therapies to use in your recovery. Healing at a deep level with such holistic practices gives you a significant advantage in early recovery, and consequently a far better chance to sustain your sobriety.
Author bio: Charlie is a writer and researcher in the fields of addiction and mental health. After battling addiction in his early years Charlie was able to get sober and further his education. When not working or working on his recovery you can find Charlie at your local basketball court.
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