More specifically, the three foundational elements of MORE are mindfulness, reappraisal, and savoring [22]. Mindfulness is described as a way to identify triggers and break the habit of automatic engagement in substance use in response to those triggers. Reappraisal is the process by which an individual reassesses a stressful event to be something more positive and constructive, as opposed to negative and destructive. Savoring is the act of focusing one’s attention on the positive, pleasing, and growth-inducing elements of an event. These foundational elements of MORE are the guiding principles that influence the ten-session protocol.

If I have a patient who is using drugs or even food to manipulate their moods I first refer them to a nutritionist; a psychiatrist or psychopharmacologist; or a holistic doctor, such as an integrative medical doctor, to break this habit. In addition to this I recommend mindfulness meditation, yoga practice, and regular exercise as they are all excellent to help mood regulation. Session seven is a four-hour “retreat” day that allows clients to immerse themselves in silent meditation to practice the skills they have been learning throughout the course. Session eight is aimed at teaching participants how to engage mindfully with anger and violence. The emotion of anger is the focus of this session, and participants are asked to identify and observe their own triggers for anger. In the final session, all of the activities and skills that were presented during the course are reviewed to solidify and sustain the concepts learned.

Mental Health Benefits

During withdrawal, people often feel like they’ve lost control of their bodies because of physical symptoms. Meditating can recenter your connection with your physical self, which may increase your sense of control and ease discomfort. Meditation, with its focus on breath and body sensations, can really help you feel more grounded as if you were experiencing a personal reconnection to your physical self. Withdrawal happens when a person addicted to a substance like drugs or alcohol reduces or completely stops using it. Depending on the individual, this could result in a wide range of physical and psychological responses, resulting in a wide range of different reactions. Typical symptoms often involve bouts of anxiety or depression, becoming easily irritable, feeling wiped out, and grappling with physical discomfort.

meditation therapy for drug addiction

This is the first systematic review of mindfulness or mindfulness meditation based interventions (MM) for substance use, misuse or disorders. Although existing data is preliminary and does not allow a consensus recommendation for any particular type of MM intervention addiction meditation for any single substance use-related condition, several findings are of clinical, theoretical and research interest. Published RCTs of mindfulness or mindfulness meditation based interventions (MM) used for the treatment of substance use, misuse or disorders.

Mindfulness Meditation for Substance Use Disorders: A Systematic Review

Similar to yoga, meditation can help reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and emotional triggers, while changing brainwaves. Meditation can also help you deal with protracted withdrawal, which involves symptoms like anxiety, difficulty making decisions and strong drug cravings that last for several months after drug use is stopped. SAMHSA recommends that people find ways to exercise their minds and bodies to prevent themselves from relapsing during the protracted withdrawal phase. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation is a mind-body activity intended to promote calm and relaxation and help people cope with illnesses and improve well-being. It involves sitting comfortably in a quiet setting, focusing your attention and allowing thoughts and distractions to pass without assessing them.

For instance, MBRP combines mindfulness meditation practices with cognitive behavioral relapse prevention treatment [6], while MORE integrates training in mindfulness with reappraisal and savoring skills [7]. In addition to the neurocognitive alterations induced by MBIs, it is also important to consider that their efficacy might depend on the target group. For instance, it was suggested that participants with lower substance use severity are more prone to profit from MBIs [93, 107]. Another crucial matter in the clinical practice of MBIs is suboptimal compliance rates that have been found to be lower than in relapse prevention alone [35, 108].


Though various conceptual models have been advanced [22, 23, 73], few tests of these specific neural hypotheses have been conducted. Adequately powered, randomized fMRI studies are needed to test basic mechanistic assumptions long held in the field. For instance, do MBIs decrease addictive behavior by strengthening inhibitory control via activation of top-down neural circuitry? Do MBIs decrease addictive behavior by reducing activation of bottom-up neural circuitry to drug cues? Similarly, functional neuroimaging methods are needed to test novel hypotheses, such as the restructuring reward hypothesis (“Do MBIs restructure the relative responsiveness to drug and natural rewards by increasing functional connectivity between top-down and bottom-up neural circuits?”). Furthermore, molecular neuroimaging (e.g., positron emission tomography; PET) is needed to understand effects of MBIs on neurotransmitters and neuropeptides implicated in addictive behavior like dopamine, endogenous opioids, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and endocannabinoids.

  • It proposes that alcoholism is a threefold disease comprised of a physical allergy that triggers craving; a mental obsession that robs addicts of their will to resist their substance of choice; and a spiritual malady that often includes feelings of disconnectedness and discontent.
  • To make matters worse, government funding for addiction treatment programs has been slashed throughout the United States due to the pandemic’s national economic toll.
  • Consider an opioid-misusing chronic pain patient who used opioids to self-medicate depression and loneliness.
  • To meet the primary aim of MABT, the course is broken down into three specific stages.
  • In a mechanistic theoretical account of mindfulness as a treatment for addiction, Garland, Froeliger, & Howard conceptualized MBIs as means of mental training designed to exercise a number of neurocognitive processes that become dysregulated during the process of addiction [22].

Another benefit of meditation is that it helps you build resilience and develop better coping skills. Going through withdrawal is like riding an emotional roller coaster, and it’s pretty common to feel totally swamped by it all. Through meditation, you can better handle those emotional highs and lows, steering them in a more manageable direction. Learning to meditate can gear you up for the rollercoaster ride of withdrawal and recovery, making it easier to handle.