We may be quick to associate addiction and recovery with words like rehab and intervention. But there are often overlooked components of recovery that may make a difference for someone coping with cravings and substance abuse.
One of these elements is always free, always accessible, and utilizes our knowledge of the very thing that can drive addiction. An approach to mindfulness and meditation can yield great results in recovery. While rehabilitation and proper therapy are crucial aspects of recovery, it is important to have several tools at one’s disposal to aid in successful sobriety. Mindful meditation is one of these tools.
First, we must understand some key points about incentive-sensitization theory. First hyper-sensitization causes a drug to affect its user increasingly. This causes an addict to seek out the drug more because they want the drug more, which becomes a downward spiral into repetition and, consequently, addiction. What the addict’s body has registered subconsciously manifests as a conscious desire for the substance, leading to a cycle of addiction that can be difficult to break.
The theory suggests that an addict will seek out the drug without necessarily understanding the physiological drive that motivates such addictive behavior. What we do know is that the feeling an addict seeks–the high and euphoria–seems temporarily fulfilled by the substance. Mindfulness instructs us to be aware of our emotions; to take control of them; to empower ourselves from knowing ourselves and our surroundings, rather than falling prey to that which we don’t understand.
Mindful meditation can direct someone in recovery to what truly makes them happy. Small steps–focusing on breathing or the sound of the ocean–allow the person to become accustomed to centering themselves and escaping the din of everyday life in a constructive, healthy way. Someone in recovery can focus on right now rather than the past that may lead them to destructive behavior, or a future that causes anxiety. Living in and appreciating the current moment can be a struggle for someone in the throes of addiction. For those recovering, who have seen themselves through the initial phase of rehabilitation, it may just be an ideal solution.
With the practice of mindfulness, the individual is called back to a place of gratitude, centering on what’s important only at this very moment, and leading the person to recognize their true desires rather than the drive to seek out a substance to mimic happiness and satiety. This allows the individual to defeat their cravings on a conscious level. Those kinds of victories are precisely what continue to pave a path to a healthy and sober life filled with actual accomplishments and real happiness.
If you or someone you know is experiencing addiction, developing an adequate treatment plan is essential to achieve recovery. A free service like Freedom From Addiction can be of help to explore the different treatment options available. For 24/7 assistance, call 1.855.RECOVER or 1.855.732.6837.
Sydney DeZinno is a writer from Tucson, AZ. A graduate of the University of Arizona, she an active advocate that is passionate about addiction recovery and helping those in crisis.
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