Mind-body medicine in addiction recovery – . Health Blog

As someone who struggled with a miserable opiate addiction for 10 years and treated hundreds of people for various addictions, I am increasingly impressed with the way mind-body medicine can be a critical part of recovery from addiction . Mind-body medicine is the use of behavioral and lifestyle interventions such as meditation, relaxation, yoga, acupuncture, and mindfulness to holistically address medical problems. Mind-body treatments can be incorporated into traditional medical treatments or used as stand-alone treatments for specific medical conditions. Mind-body medicine is currently being studied by the National Institutes of Health and is being used effectively in the treatment of addiction. It is likely to play a role in addiction recovery programs in the future.

Mind-body principles are not new to the recovery movement

Mind-Body Principles have been around since the recovery movement began in 1937, and they are a huge part of Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 steps of AA include concepts such as devotion, meditation, gratitude, and letting go – all important components of mind-body medicine. Most 12-step meetings end with the serenity prayer, “God, great for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to see the difference. “Mutual support groups play a role in recovery for many people, and the principles of mindfulness that are part of these programs, along with social support, should not be overlooked.

My experience with mind-body therapies for addiction

When I was sent to rehab by the Medical Association for 90 days for my addiction, we took part in many activities that seemed close to mind-body medicine, but they were arbitrary and not particularly scientific, and I wasn't. I don't think they had the intended effect or were therapeutic at all. For example, we made shrub mazes (I would get lost). we sat in meditation in silence (everyone around me smoked on the chain and triggered my asthma); We have had repeated lectures on “letting go and letting go of God” (I still have no idea what this means). We spent 30 minutes staring at a red square projected onto a screen (this gave me a migraine). and we went to a local acupuncture site where they plugged additional electrical power into the needles to give us extra "chi" (felt like I was being cooked for dinner). Given that rehab is a $ 50 billion industry, I thought this was a missed opportunity to use mind-body medicine in ways that were neither superficial nor trivial.

Formal mind-body therapies for addiction are being studied in depth

Fortunately, there are now several science-based mind-body medicine options for people in recovery. Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) is a technique that uses meditation as well as cognitive approaches to prevent relapse. The aim is to raise awareness of clues and triggers so that one does not instinctively turn to drug use. It also helps people become comfortable with uncomfortable emotions and thoughts – their emergency tolerance, a person's ability to tolerate emotional discomfort – without automatically escaping by taking a medicine. Improving exercise tolerance is a common theme for many, if not all, addiction recovery approaches, as a large part of the appeal of drug use is replacing a bad emotion with a good emotion – for example, using a drug.

Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) is another technique to address addiction in recovery. MORE seeks to use both mindfulness and positive psychology to address the underlying distress that caused the addiction in the first place. There are three main pillars of MORE: It has been shown to help with exercise tolerance. Cue reactivity (the way people with addiction react to cues, such as a bottle of prescription medication, which often induces cravings); and attention disorder (the way an addicted brain pays extra, selective attention to certain things, such as a pack of cigarettes, when you quit smoking).

Mindfulness-Based Addiction Therapy (MBAT) is a technique that uses mindfulness to teach clients how to perceive current emotions and sensations and how to get rid of the urge to use drugs. This is known as "urge surfing" and we have practiced it extensively in rehab. The aim is to break the automatic link between feeling unwell, craving drugs, and using a drug to relieve these symptoms without thinking or thinking about it.

Is there good evidence of mind-body medicine approaches to recovery?

While there is promising research that mind-body treatments for addiction are effective, some of the research is contradicting itself. According to a meta-analysis in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, mindfulness is a positive intervention in substance use disorders, has a significant but small effect on reducing substance abuse, a significant effect on reducing food cravings and, importantly, a treatment that has a great impact on reducing stress.

However, not all studies on addiction body medicine have shown predominantly positive results in addiction. Some studies have shown that treatment gains decrease over time. Some randomized controlled trials did not show that mind-body medicine was better than cognitive behavioral therapy when it came to cutting down on alcohol, cocaine, or giving up cigarette smoking.

The National Center for Complementary and Inclusive Health has thoroughly reviewed much of the current mind-body medicine literature relating to addiction treatments, and has summarized the effects of certain mind-body treatments as follows:

  • Acupuncture is generally safe and can help with withdrawal, cravings, and anxiety. However, there is little evidence that it has a direct impact on actual substance use.
  • There has been evidence that hypnotherapy improves my smoking cessation.
  • Mindfulness-based interventions can reduce the use of substances such as alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, cigarettes, opiates, and amphetamines more than control therapies and are also linked to decreased cravings and the risk of relapse. However, the data in several studies are not strong.

At this point in time, we need more and better evidence and more definitive conclusions about how helpful mind-body medicine will ultimately be in treating addiction in different treatment settings. But one takeaway message is that mindfulness-based treatments are certainly very effective as ancillary treatments for addiction, as they can help people with their anxiety, emergency tolerance, and cravings and will plausibly prove helpful when they turn off the drink or the drug , and to avoid relapsing once they've managed to get into recovery.

Mind-body interventions to prevent addiction

If mind-body medicine can significantly reduce stress, one must ask whether it can also help us prevent addiction by helping our society cope with the chronic, overwhelming stress it faces. Addiction is largely seen as a "disease of desperation". Important addiction factors are untreated anxiety and depression, unresolved childhood trauma, social isolation, and poor exercise tolerance. When we can all learn or be trained to be more mindful, grateful, present and connected, perhaps the need, and ultimately the habit, of meeting our most basic needs with the false promise of a chemical that only wears off – and makes us worse off – gets become less of a problem in our society.

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