Practice Regular Meditation

In Meditation by Randy Kassebaum


Meditation might seem like New Age nonsense to people who have never tried it. People from older generations may even remember seeing hippies meditating or trying it out as a young hippie. However, modern science has confirmed what has been evident for thousands of years: meditation has a powerful effect on a person’s mental health and may serve as a great way to overcome addiction to various substances and is incorporated into inpatient rehab.

For example, an article on Headspace – an online meditation provider – discussed the ways that an individual used meditation to overcome alcoholism. The writer explains how meditation allowed them to clear their mind when impulses for alcohol use struck. Instead of giving into their triggers, they were able to refocus their mind on positive thoughts and get through their cravings. Meditation allows a person to think about what really matters in their lives and to refocus on it. And beyond these benefits, meditation causes a real physical reaction in the brain.

For example, a study by Harvard Medical School took a look at the power of meditation for overcoming depression and anxiety. Benjamin Shapero, a psychiatry instructor at the school paired with Gaëlle Desbordes. The two decided to see how the mind changed when a person practiced mindfulness-based meditation. The two used fMRI probes to take images of depressed individual’s brains before they meditated and after they finished their meditation. Desbordes herself had experience with meditation and was curious about how it worked on the mind.

During the study, Desbordes noted differences in the amygdala before and after a person had meditated. This part of the brain is responsible for feeling emotions and, in depressed and anxious individuals, it is often overstimulated. Desbordes’ scans of her test subjects before meditation confirmed that their amygdala was overstimulated. However, the after scans showed that the amygdala was less active after meditating, even hours or days after finishing.

These benefits easily translate to people who are suffering from a crippling addiction. Calming the amygdala could help minimize their emotional need to relapse and staying sober at New Years. Just as importantly, meditation could ease their mind and relax their body, making overcoming their need to abuse substances much easier. Even 10 minutes of meditation a day can help.