The Benefits of Meditation for People in Recovery
Meditation has many benefits in general. Although the research has been mixed in some cases, there have been many studies which have found that meditation can have immense benefits on physical, mental, and emotional health. Many of these benefits are powerful for those in recovery, and suggest meditation may be a deeply useful practice for some! You can check out this great piece with a ton of research-backed benefits of meditation at 29 Benefits of Meditation: What the Research Tells Us. We may investigate meditation through programs like Refuge Recovery, or as part of the 11th Step of AA.
Meditation can help improve stress levels, which is closely linked to risk of relapse. Multiple studies have found a reduction in stress from mindfulness-based interventions. In a 2014 study, researchers had study participants enroll in an eight-week mindfulness course. Those who completed the course had significantly lower levels of stress and reported less drug and alcohol cravings.
Further research is definitely required, as mindfulness and addiction studies are relatively young and new. However, studies like this suggest it may be a helpful adjunct treatment method for those struggling with substance use disorder, along with other therapeutic modalities.
A 2006 study published in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy found significant benefits in self-esteem among those who underwent a mindfulness meditation course. Specifically, the study looked at those with high shame and self-criticism, investigating the benefits of mindfulness for these issues the participants were facing. With self-compassion meditation, individuals showed lower levels of shame and unhealthy self-criticism.
When we get sober, many of us have shame over our actions when we were using. This can be a gripping experience, controlling our thoughts and emotions. This study suggests meditation may be useful in helping us to develop a healthy sense of self-compassion and care, rather than judgement and harsh self-criticism.
Anxiety and Stress
In 2010, researchers conducted a study looking at multiple different studies on mindfulness and anxiety. This meta-analysis found that mindfulness interventions showed significant improvements in levels of anxiety. This effect was true especially among study participants with existing anxiety disorders. As a meta-analysis, this paper looked at almost 40 individual studies, finding these results to be true overall, regardless of the study size, length of meditation periods, or year of the conducted study.
If you or somebody you love is in recovery, you know that anxiety is a common experience. Without drugs and alcohol in the system, we have to deal with the worry, stress, and anxiety that arises. This large study suggests meditation may be a useful tool for helping individual deal with the anxiety experienced during early recovery. Whether you’re quitting the bottle or coming off benzodiazepines, anxiety is something you may come up against, and meditation is a tool for your toolbox!
In the same meta-analysis mentioned above, researchers found that mindfulness meditation significantly improved indicators of mood. Again, this was especially significant in those with existing mood disorders like bipolar and depression. Many people struggle with co-occurring disorders, and have a mood disorder along with their substance use disorder. Even those who don’t may benefit from mindfulness, as this study found benefits for those without mood disorders as well.
In using, we try lots of things to sleep better. We drink until we pass out or use sedatives, and getting sober can make it hard to fall asleep. This is actually one benefit of quitting smoking weed, as long-term marijuana use actually causes insomnia. Current research strongly suggests meditation can help us both fall asleep and stay asleep. We can meditate at night to help ourselves calm down, but meditation during the day has also been found to be beneficial. Meditation can help the body rest, and encourages the relaxation needed for sleep at the end of your day.