Can Meditation Heal Dependence on Drink and Drugs?

Thank you so much to Masoud for writing this brilliantly insightful article about the power of meditation and its effect on addiction problems. If you’d like to write a post for Wayfaring Sarah then please get in touch! 🙂 

After watching recent documentary on drug and alcohol abuse, I began to wonder whether the real reason that many of us are so dependent on substances is largely the result of hidden stress and discomfort (anxiety, guilt shame, etc.) playing throughout our minds in everyday situations, keeping us from enjoying life.

A Hidden Dis-ease

The term dis-ease, in its hyphenated form, has classically been used by members of the holistic health community as a way of re-contextualizing a health malady. Their intent has always been to avoid empowering health issues by focusing on a particular symptom and instead emphasize the natural state of “ease” and harmony as imbalanced and displaced. It works for us perfectly here as a descriptive term to help understand the difficulties faced by those with issues of dependence and addiction.

This dis-ease is, in fact, a hidden one. And it stems from our minds own inner limitations, resulting in those who suffer requiring outside sources to help quiet their minds and bring about a sense of relief or inner peace from the constant turmoil within.

Scans of the brain have shown this through Magnetic Resonance Imaging, detecting large volumes of stress within the brain of individuals at rest. While doing very little, it appears certain people suffer from huge levels of discomfort, compared to others who are remarkably free from the trouble and altogether at ease.

A Harmful Relief

The troubled waters of the mind of certain individuals, it seems, are too frantic to escape from through the minds own healing process i.e. cognitive dissonance and reason. So it goes that, with such constant turmoil, the mind begins to crave something that will help bring it relief.

The human brain, having evolved through millions of years, would usually identify a toxic substance like drugs or alcohol as innately bad for the individual. However, in the modern world of unidentifiable man-made intoxicants, it has relatively no inner defenses to categorize these things as harmful. When the waters of our lives turn stormy, the human brain only sees outlets of relief: a way out of the inner turmoil.

We have developed ancestral instincts to identify ancient naturally occurring toxins – mold, rot, etc. However, with these new powerful substances – i.e., synthetic drugs and alcohol – evolution has provided no internal warning system and so a craving arises as a means to subdue the discomfort that rages below the surface.

The high then brings peacefulness of mind to the sufferer and relief at last from a seemingly long and challenging existence. Under such circumstances, any individual would turn to substance abuse. Examples of this can be seen everywhere; just look at the long list of war veterans who attest to the fact.

I mean, what else is there available to bring us back to that peaceful and vibrant existence we once knew? How else are we to return to the place where life was joyful, serene, happy and full?

A Healthier Alternative

It is to this question I would like to offer another solution: frequent and long-term meditation. With such frailty to the human mind, and given its incredible power to affect the subjective quality of our lives, it would seem only sensible that we do what we can to give it the very best chance available to direct us forward.

Neuroscientists have already shown how choices are often made many seconds before they arrive in awareness. Given such insights, it is clear that, to influence our minds decision-making processes, we need to provide it the best possible clarity and focus available.

Research available on the power of meditation to heal anyone from school children to prison inmates attests to the efficacy of this method. If we can find inner peace and harmonious wellbeing within ourselves on a regular basis, we can calm the troubled waters from the stresses of everyday life – and for some those stresses are far greater than others. Subsequently, it would seem inevitable that our minds yearning for outside sources that provide the same thing would slowly dissipate, and we would be free from our dependency.

The Long Term Commitment

With a calm mind, our lives would move in a healthier direction and, with continued return to the silence, old emotions and belief systems may arise and fall away. With lightness of spirit, we could journey more freely through our lives and experience a greater sense of gratitude and connection within it all. Under these conditions, it would seem nonsensical to indulge, for the desired result – the high – is already existent in reality.

Meditation can free the mind from its inner turmoil. It is no easy solution and requires a profound level of commitment. Developing a streamlined focus of mind is an arduous undertaking that calls for an inner resolve that sometimes seems otherworldly. The daemons locked away in our minds are very powerful, deeply buried, and facing them can require incredible levels of courage.

Yet, history has shown that there is an invaluable benefit to inner freedom, one that reverberates through the life of the individual and the world. So find inspiration, rely on the experience of others, and surround yourself with uplifting material. The journey ahead is no easy task; it is the road less traveled; the straight and narrow path. In the end, we can all come to realize that it was worth it all along.

This article is not meant as a source of medical advice. Its sole intention is to make a point on the effectiveness of one tried and tested tool. There are, of course, many other available options, including therapy, counseling, pharmaceuticals and other forms of long-term support. These are all proven, and equally valid means of treatment for long-term sufferers of addiction problems.

In effect, All I really want to do inspire those who struggle with these issues to not so quickly overlook an often rejected form of inner healing.


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