In addition to traditional methods such as individual and group therapy, many Alaska rehab facilities offer holistic care options. This leg of treatment comprises many therapeutic techniques and activities, among the more common of which is meditation. Mindfulness practices such as meditation can play a vital role in mental health treatment, particularly regarding addicts and alcoholics who suffer from co-occurring disorders.
A few specific mental benefits of meditation account for this. While most would consider meditation a spiritual practice, the mental health benefits of meditation are largely rooted in neuroscience. As discussed below, these benefits have the potential to help not only with substance use disorder, but also with any other mental or emotional disorders from which an addict may suffer.
Meditation for Substance Use Disorder
When treating patients for alcohol or drug use disorder, treatment centers must put a great deal of effort into relapse prevention. No Alaska rehab wants to develop a reputation as a revolving door facility. In the interest of truly helping people, every facet of the program must lend itself to long-term sobriety. This is why a 2009 study on the mental benefits of meditation in substance use treatment is so appealing. Focusing primarily on risk reduction, the study found that mindfulness meditation generally proves effective in preventing relapse.
Despite admitted methodological limitations in this study, other proven mental benefits of meditation appear to corroborate its findings. Among the most important finding is that mindfulness practice typically increases parasympathetic activity. The parasympathetic nervous system opposes the so-called “fight or flight” response, producing a calming effect in both mind and body. When a person experiences cravings, meditation can calm the nerves and slow the heart rate. The urge to use may not dissipate immediately, but the sense of urgency will quickly die down. Sometimes, even the briefest moment of calm can be enough to diffuse a relapse in time to prevent catastrophe.
Meditation for Co-Occurring Disorders
The mental benefits of meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, extend far beyond relapse prevention. In fact, the practice of monitoring the content of one’s thoughts has created a vital link between meditation and psychiatric care. When a person suffers from depression or anxiety, they allow themselves to take a step back and observe their thoughts from an objective standpoint. It takes great practice to become an impartial observer of one’s own mind, but the result is that the meditator learns to monitor their thought process without immediately reacting to it.
With a few notable exceptions such as schizophrenia or extreme cases of PTSD, many co-occurring disorders affect the sufferer in a similar manner to that of addiction. A person becomes manic, depressive or otherwise emotionally disturbed and allows unhealthy feelings to create unhealthy thoughts. These thoughts then lead to destructive and self-sabotaging behaviors. Depending on the emotion involved, these behaviors may range from spending too much money to committing acts of self-harm. The ability to step back and monitor these thoughts is one of the greatest mental health benefits of meditation because it saves the meditator from the pitfalls of their own maladaptive thinking.
Alaska Rehab Meditation at Aspire Health Network
Aspire Health Network facilities provide access to holistic care options such as mindfulness meditation in addition to traditional therapy techniques. Not only will clients at our Alaska rehab facility experience the mental benefits of meditation, they will also gain access to holistic and alternative therapies such as:
- Massage therapy
- Experiential therapy
- Spiritual counseling
If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, with or without co-occurring disorders, the mental benefits of meditation and other holistic therapies may serve you well. For more information on alternative therapy techniques provided at Aspire facilities, you may contact us at (855) 687-6555.