Is there a perfect solution for overcoming addictions? Unfortunately, no. But there are many methods that have proved to be successful; some conventional, some a little less conventional. In the latter category, Mind-Body Medicine is often a topic that comes up. This consists of treatments like meditation, yoga, acupuncture and more, all of which received recent praise from Harvard Medical School in an article on their site.
Dr. Peter Grinspoon authored the Harvard piece on mind-body recovery, openly sharing that he himself went through this type of treatment. In his candid article, Dr. Grinspoon discussed his own opioid dependency (which lasted over 10 years). He also talked about the drastic changes he went through after mind-body medicine treatments and how they are now being studied by The National Institutes of Health as effective addiction solutions.
The article goes on to share that these types of methods have been around since the 1930’s, playing a big role in the rise of Alcoholics Anonymous (with concepts like meditation, letting go and the Serenity Prayer). When Dr. Grinspoon initially went through treatment, mind-body wasn’t a big part of the process and he felt that was a miss. The hope would be that recovery facilities would put a serious emphasis on these exercises and use them to their full advantage.
“When I was sent to rehab for 90 days by the medical board due to my addiction, we participated in a lot of activities that seemed to be meant to approximate mind-body medicine, but they were haphazard and not particularly scientific,” Dr. Grinspoon explained. “I felt this was a lost opportunity to utilize mind-body medicine in a way that wasn’t superficial or trivial.”
The last point become a big focus of the article. Unfortunately, exercises like yoga and mediation can become stigmatized and not thought of as effective recovery tools. Dr. Grinspoon makes a strong point to counter that, sharing research and data from The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
He goes on to call out three particular methods that have all received scientific backing. Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) has shown great success for recovery alumni. Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) blends these exercises with psychological counseling, working to improve mental health. And Mindfulness-Based Addiction Therapy (MBAT) uses the concept of detachment to curb drug and alcohol cravings.
We definitely recommend reading Dr. Grinspoon’s article, which ends with a poignant, effective statement.
“Addiction is in large part considered to be a “disease of despair.” Important contributors to addiction are untreated anxiety and depression, unresolved childhood trauma, social isolation, and poor distress tolerance,” he concludes. “If all of us can learn, or be trained, to be more mindful, grateful, present, and connected, perhaps the need, and eventually the habit, of fulfilling our most basic needs with the false promise of a chemical that merely wears off — and leaves us worse off — will become less of a problem in our society.”