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Meditation Versus Opioid Addiction

The lethal grip of opioid drugs tightens its hold, claiming more lives each year in the United States than traffic accidents. Shockingly, approximately 100 Americans lose their lives to these drugs every single day. The addictive nature of opioids is relentless, with a staggering 25% of individuals prescribed these medications falling prey to opioids’ addictive properties.

Traditional treatments for this specific addiction are not only costly, averaging around $4,700 per year, but tragically yield limited success. As revealed in the 2016 Surgeon General’s Report, over 60% of individuals suffering from addiction experience relapses within a mere 12 months, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Opioid Addiction TreatmentServing as a poignant example, at the tender age of 16, Devin underwent wisdom tooth extraction and was subsequently prescribed a 30-day supply of opioid pain medication. However, discovering the euphoric allure of these pills, within a mere three days he had exhausted his entire prescription. The alarming ease with which he acquired opioid drugs from various sources soon became evident.

Fast forward to a fateful day in Devin’s life. Now 24, he awoke in a hospital room, his mother and a compassionate drug counselor sitting by his bedside. The grim reality of his overdose hit him like a tidal wave, and he realized he was now teetering on the edge of losing everything he held dear. A change was imperative.

With unwavering support from his family, Devin completed treatment and sought solace in a transitional living house. Today, he stands tall, having celebrated a decade of recovery. Devin’s life is now a testament to hope and resilience, with a loving wife, a cherished daughter, a nurturing home, a master’s degree, and a career devoted to guiding others on the path to substance use recovery. He gently reminds his clients that opioid use disorder is a product of our brain’s intricate circuitry, not a reflection of moral shortcomings.

Focusing on the brain function of individuals dependent on opioids, a recent study sheds new light (Garland et al., 2019). The researchers meticulously observed the brain activity of 135 chronic pain sufferers who relied on daily opioid usage. These participants were then divided into two groups. Half engaged in mindfulness meditation for eight weeks, while the remaining individuals participated in a support group facilitated by a therapist.

Curing Opioid Use DisorderRemarkably, the researchers discovered that mindfulness meditation had the power to “reverse the devastating trajectory” of drug abuse. The brains of those who practiced mindfulness became less reactive to cues associated with drug cravings. Simultaneously, these individuals became more adept at savoring simple pleasures, reporting decreased pain levels and an upsurge in positive emotions compared to their counterparts in the support group.

The researchers affirmed that mindfulness meditation “teaches people to better notice, appreciate, and amplify the good things in life, while also deriving meaning and value from difficult situations.”

If you have not yet embarked on a daily meditation practice, I implore you to consider doing so now. Each morning, I embark on a transformative journey called EcoMeditation, comprising seven simple steps. This amalgamation of acupressure, heart coherence, neurofeedback, hypnosis, and mindfulness can elevate your emotional state within a mere four minutes, as demonstrated by scientific research (Church et al., 2020).

Many moons ago, I made a solemn commitment to meditate for 30 minutes each day. In the weeks and months that ensued, my life underwent a remarkable transformation as the practice rewired the very structure of my brain, aligning it with the frequencies of happiness and inner peace.

I extend a heartfelt invitation to you, dear reader, to embark on your own journey of rewiring your brain for happiness through the power of meditation. Embrace this daily practice, keep a journal to track your progress, and prepare to be astounded by the profound depths of joy awaiting you. 

References

Church, D., Stapleton, P., & Sabot, D. (2020). Brief EcoMeditation associated with psychological improvements: A preliminary study. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 9, 2164956120984142.

Garland, E. L., Atchley, R. M., Hanley, A. W., Zubieta, J. K., & Froeliger, B. (2019). Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement remediates hedonic dysregulation in opioid users: Neural and affective evidence of target engagement. Science Advances, 5(10), eaax1569.  

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