“One of the things that meditation teaches us, when we slowly descend into ourselves, is that the sense of peace already exists in us.”
-- H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
As many of us are painfully aware, stress can be physical, mental, and emotional forces of tension that, if not properly remedied, can significantly overpower us. Too often many individuals underestimate and ignore just how powerful a force stress can be. According to WebMD, stress can be caused by work-based unhappiness, personal issues such as divorce, past traumatic events like sexual assault or natural disasters, or emotional turmoil, such as depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem (WebMD).
For those with Substance Use Disorder, stress can make recovery an extremely difficult journey. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can provoke feelings of cravings within those who drink heavily, or misuse drugs. A recent WebMD analysis reports that the aforementioned mental health issues can increase the risk of the risk of opioid addiction. The report goes on to state that as a response to stress, many patients impulsively resolve to misusing opioids and other prescription painkillers (WebMD).
At Tigger House Foundation, we recommend many practical mind-body techniques to conquer the intensity of stress that comes with SUD recovery. One such technique that we firmly believe in is meditation. Naysayers may dismiss meditation as an overrated fad, or a glorified form of relaxation that would do little to nothing in acquiring calmness in oneself otherwise. On the contrary: studies have proven that meditation is a very effective way of combating stress and inner pressure. WebMD defines meditation as a “simple technique that, if practiced for as few as 10 minutes each day, can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation.” Meditation is performed by diverting all attention towards the present moment, or “ the now.” Medical experts theorize that people with SUDs need certain coping mechanisms to escape their stress or other psychological burdens; hence the need to misuse these substances. Meditation can aid in SUD recovery by helping the individual face their feelings and cravings, and providing a calmer approach to coping with their situations (WebMD).
If your SUD is significant, feelings of sudden stress or anxiety is inevitable; you might experience the classic “fight or flight” rush of adrenaline or heightened excitement. Meditation is meant to relieve such rushes via a “relaxation response,” or a state of deep relaxation in which our pulse rate, breathing, blood pressure levels, and metabolism are decreased. We recommend that individuals with SUD try the relaxation response upon experiencing cravings-induced rush feelings. To reach this response, utilize the following methods:
- Find a quiet, solitary place with no distractions
- Sit quietly with good posture and eyes closed for about 10 to 20 minutes; sitting is preferred to lying down to avoid falling asleep
- Silently and slowly repeat a word, sound, or phrase (particularly one with special personal significance to you)
- Relax your muscles from your feet to your face
- Breathe through your nose in relaxed motions
As you meditate, try your best not to allow negative intruding thoughts distract your relaxation response. When finished, gradually open your eyes. Meditation practice may require practice at first, so don’t expect instant overnight success. Instead, try the above relaxation techniques once or twice a day. In time, you will be able to achieve the enhanced calmness needed to help through your recovery (WebMD).
Tigger House strongly endorses the therapeutic power of meditation, to help you reach that special type of enhanced calmness needed to overcome stress and anxiety brought upon by an SUD. In particular, meditation is a great way of achieving mind-body therapy at home if quarantining during the pandemic is deemed necessary.
Whether you or a loved one needs assistance in your recovery or getting sober, we are always here for you. Please don’t be afraid to reach out. Contact our Addiction Navigator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-865-1559.
We at Tigger House Foundation understand the dangers of substance use. Hence, our organization looks to motivate and support those with substance use disorder towards recovery. All are encouraged to visit our website for more details.