“Practicing mindfulness can make a person more aware of their tendency to respond reflexively to urges. By being more aware of their cravings, we think, the study participants were able to bring intention back into the equation, instead of automatically reaching for the drink when they feel a craving.”
~ Dr. Sunjeev Kamboj, University College, London
A new study published in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology suggests that practicing mindfulness daily can help reduce alcohol cravings and consumption.
Mindfulness is consciously focusing your awareness and attention on what is happening in your life. This deliberate focus helps you RESPOND to problems, instead of just REACTING to them.
In terms of recovery from alcoholism, people practicing mindfulness are able to tolerate their cravings to drink as merely temporary events, without having to compulsively act on them.
In the study, following 11 minutes of initial training and reminders to continue practicing mindfulness, chronic heavy drinkers consumed less alcohol over the following week than those people who were only instructed in relaxation techniques.
The results were striking:
- Mindfulness participants drank over 9 units of alcohol less during the week after training, compared to the week prior.
- Relaxation participants, on the other hand, showed no significant reduction in alcohol consumption.
Changing the Brain for the Better
This new research dovetails nicely with earlier research conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital showing that 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation triggered neurochemical changes within practitioners’ brains.
By meditating an average of just 27 minutes a day, participants experienced measurable changes within the brain region linked to memory, empathy, identity, and stress.
What Does This Mean for Alcoholism Recovery?
Mindfulness is just recognized as an effective option for people struggling with problem drinking. Combined with other evidence-based strategies, mindfulness can help restore not just sobriety, but also balance to your life.
Lasting Recovery outpatient drug and alcohol rehab in San Diego helps both those with substance abuse and their families. If you are ready to begin living a mindful sobriety, contact us know.