Using Mindfulness to Reduce Addiction and Substance Abuse Cravings

Many people do not seem to understand that addiction is not a conscious choice. It is a psychological issue for those who have developed dependencies on drugs, alcohol, and other addictive substances. Substance craving is at the root of addiction problem, especially so for those who are trying to overcome it but are overpowered by its pull. Substance craving torments the addict and even those who seemingly have succeeded in rehabilitation themselves. As a result, there is a susceptibility to falling into a relapse.

Meditation can play a crucial role in reducing a person’s substance craving. It couldn’t be any simpler than taking a seat on the floor and focusing your attention on your breath. Mindfulness meditation trains your brain to be on a high level of focus. It is a state where you ward off anxiety attacks, and it puts you in control of your decisions and actions. But how?

Take the Right Sitting Position

Mindfulness meditation requires that you are correctly seated for comfort and allow appropriate blood flow. As a beginner, this is called posture practice, and you do this until you determine the most comfortable position for you. Take a seat on the floor, a table, chair, pillow, pretty much where you think you are comfortable without slouching.

Straighten your back but do not be stiff. Look at your legs. If you are sitting on the floor, be sure to cross them. Try to assume the lotus position, if you are able to do this. If, however, you are seated on a chair, ensure that the bottom of your feet is touching the floor.

Relax the Rest of Your Body

Your upper arms must be parallel to your body. Put your palms on top of your thighs and let your shoulders drop. Do not try to pull back your shoulders to straighten up because this will make you stiff and uncomfortable. You aim to find the sweet spot where your body is in complete relaxation.

Tilt your head a little forward and drop your chin a little. Although it is not necessary to close your eyes, doing so can help you avoid possible distractions.

Do the Breathing Exercise

Focus your attention on your breathing. Inhale slowly, deeply. And release slowly. Do this several times. Keep your attention on the air coming in and out of your lungs. Follow the air in your mind, with more focus while you exhale. Focus on the physical sensations of breathing. Feel your chest fill up with air. Feel it lose the air.

Eventually, your mind will wander somewhere and start thinking about things. When you realize this is happening, bring back your attention to the breathing exercise. Do not fight the thoughts with other thoughts. When you lose focus, pause to change positions to make you feel comfortable.

Lastly, open your eyes when you are ready. Observe your surroundings and how you feel. Do this twice a day, morning and night, for short periods of time when you are just a beginner. The average is about five minutes, but as you progress, you can do this for around 30 minutes.

Mindfulness meditation allows you to empty your thoughts and shift your attention to something else. When you crave for addictive substances, it is your brain that tells you that you need your drug, so much the same as your brain saying when it is time to eat.

Eating, however, can be postponed and it is easy for us to do, knowing that we have full control about what time we want to eat. The pleasure of eating is just there whenever we are ready for food.

With substances, you are fighting the pleasure off. You know that you should not have it, and this is what makes the craving a tormenting experience. Meditation and mindfulness can help you combat these cravings and stay sober.

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