It has to be emphasized that meditation cannot be the only technique used to treat alcoholics. On the other hand, we may conclude that meditation, especially mindfulness meditation can be a very effective supplementary technique in treating alcohol dependence.
The active ingredient of meditative practices is, most certainly the “be here now” principle. Most addicts tend to crave psychoactive substances in a stressful situation when automatic thoughts overwhelm. In these situations, alcoholics begin to question their own self-worth- we all do this, but people with mental health problems cannot relativize the truthfulness of their thoughts.
People with alcohol dependency take their automatic thoughts and conclusions for granted and then succumb to the detrimental behavioral patterns.
To solve the problem, psychologists have developed various techniques aimed at gaining a patient’s control over their desires and developing motivation for long-term abstinence from alcohol.
Meditation from alcoholism is one of the methods of self-help, which gives positive results, especially when applied simultaneously with other psychological techniques.
What is the essence of meditation to quit drinking alcohol
The task of meditation is to focus on one’s own feelings or thoughts, to enter a state of altered consciousness, which in a sense is related to meditation with hypnosis.
In a state of meditation, a person better understands his feelings and emotions, enters into a dialogue with the subconscious, relieves nervous and muscle tension. Thanks to meditation, it is possible to better understand yourself, your true desires and motives of behavior.
Meditation helps to gain control over alcohol addiction and can significantly reduce the craving for alcohol.
Guided meditation to stop drinking
The key problem of alcohol dependence is the psychological craving for alcohol, which causes frequent breakdowns and addiction.
For meditation, a person can choose any pose convenient for him: lying, sitting, standing. The most famous is the pose with a straight back and legs crossed in front of you. At the same time, the head is inclined to the chest, the eyes are closed, and the arms are turned with palms up and resting on your knees.
It is important to create an appropriate environment: quiet, comfortable. You can turn on relaxing music or have a session in the lap of nature.
Example of meditation to quit alcohol
Time: If you do not have enough willpower to give up drinking, then do this meditation with the involvement of a higher power that will help stop your addiction.
- Sit on a pillow or chair in a meditative space. Light a candle. For five minutes, focus on breathing to calm and clear the mind.
- Visualize the warm light of love around your heart region. Feel the heart soften and open.
- Visualize the higher power that you believe in. Offer her a prayer. Ask her for help on your difficult journey to get rid of alcohol addiction. Pray that your vision will gain the ability to penetrate beyond the material world into the spiritual and Divine planes of our reality. And finally, ask that you be able to constantly feel sorry for yourself during this difficult journey.
- Finish your meditation by imagining that a higher power settles in your heart forever.
During meditation, the task of a person is to free his head from all thoughts, to concentrate on the internal sensations coming from his body. If thoughts arise, it is necessary to concentrate again on the inner sensations. It is permissible to present pleasant pictures during meditation, to “listen” to pleasant music. Gradually, the time of meditation should be increased from 1-2 minutes to 15 or more.
Research On Meditation For Alcohol Addiction
Zgierska and colleagues have conducted a study that sought to test the efficiency of mindfulness meditation in preventing alcohol relapse. Their participants went through an 8-week course revolving around mindfulness meditation.
These are some of the most important aspects of this course:
- Craving and automatic pilot: Here, a connection between automatic thoughts and alcohol craving is drawn. Participants learned the basics of what it means to “be, here, now”. For instance, alcohol craving can come as a result of automatic thoughts like “I am not good enough.”, or “People won’t like me if I am not happy and outgoing (drunk).”. Alcoholics are not aware of these automatic thoughts and the first step towards preventing relapse is to become conscious of them. With the help of meditation, participants are anchored in the present moment, which helps them control their craving and automatic thoughts.
- Learning to identify barriers: Learning to use meditation when frustration, anxiety, and other negative emotions become overwhelming is the most important part of the second phase. For instance, alcohol addicts learn how to identify the stimuli that trigger them to consume alcohol. When triggers are identified, participants are encouraged to do a short, preventive meditation session.
- Learning to employ mindfulness meditation in everyday life: This phase revolves around mini-meditation and walking meditation. Walking meditation is especially interesting because it shows that meditation can be adapted to everyday life and habits.
- Acceptance and change: Meditation helps alcohol addicts accept their personal suffering and all the problems they avoided in the past. Alcohol dependence and all substance addictions, in general, are quite often “cover-ups” for other mental health problems like depression, anxiety, personality disorder, PTSD, etc. People often resort to substance abuse as a way to avoid the mental health issues they experienced in the first place. Mindfulness meditation motivates people to accept their innermost vulnerability, and use this acceptance to change their behavior.
- The difference between our thoughts and reality: Mindfulness meditation helps people learn to observe their thoughts as they would observe anything else. Instead of acting automatically, participants learn that their thoughts are just a more or less biased representation of reality.
It has been found that adhering to the mindfulness meditation program leads to a reduction of various symptoms linked with alcohol addiction- anxiety, depression, and stress. The intensity of craving also decreased markedly. On the other hand, physiological markers of alcoholism and mental health issues (cortisol levels, and pathophysiological examination of the liver) didn’t show statistically significant improvements. It may be argued that such results are ought to be found, but the study we’re describing here didn’t include that many participants- only 19 alcoholics took part in this research.
Does meditation to stop drinking alcohol work?
A study by the University of Michigan proved that the inclusion of spiritual exercises in the treatment of alcoholism in a shorter time allows you to stop drinking and cure patients of this addiction.
This conclusion was made after studying 154 adult Americans suffering from alcoholism who tried to get rid of their addiction to alcohol. Before starting treatment, drunkards filled out detailed questionnaires in which, in particular, they talked about the degree of their religiosity (for example, they believe or do not believe in God, how often they attend church, how often they read books and spiritual articles, how much they tend to forgive their neighbors And so on). Such questionnaires were periodically filled by alcoholics during and after treatment.
It turned out that for half a year the “religious component” of half of alcoholics has seriously changed – they began to demonstrate views that are more consistent with religious canons. At the same time, the fundamental principles of relations with God did not change (that is, for example, atheists remained atheists, and believers did not disappoint in their religion).
Further analysis showed that those alcoholics who became more religious with each day of treatment more successfully refused an addiction to alcohol than those drunkards whose spiritual life did not undergo any special changes.
Excessive alcohol consumption is among the causes of mortality in the United States in third place – after smoking and malnutrition. Alcohol abuse kills 75,000 Americans every year.
We invite you to have a look at our very simple and straightforward guide on how to meditate, get our Nonviolence Meditation book to support your meditation practice (and also help others), and browse our meditation courses.