How Mindfulness Can Help Kick Drug Addiction

How Mindfulness Can Help Kick Drug Addiction

Mindfulness techniques and methadone may reduce cravings and pain among people experiencing opioid addiction and chronic pain, research finds.

The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, involved 30 patients.

The findings showed that those who received methadone and a mindfulness training-based intervention were 1.3 times better at controlling their cravings and had significantly greater improvements in pain, stress, and positive emotions, even though they were aware of more cravings than those who only received standard methadone treatment and counseling.

Mindfulness is the meditative practice of focusing on the present moment and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judgment.


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“Methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) has been an effective form of medication treatment for opioid use disorder,” says Nina Cooperman, associate professor and clinical psychologist in the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “However, nearly half of individuals on MMT continue to use opioids during treatment or relapse with six months.”

Cooperman says many of those with opioid addictions experience chronic pain, anxiety, and depression while on methadone maintenance, which is why mindfulness-based, non-drug interventions seem promising.

The researchers say mindfulness-based interventions could help people dependent on opioids increase their self-awareness and self-control over cravings and be less reactive to emotional and physical pain. Individuals with an opioid addiction could also learn to change their negative thoughts and savor pleasant events, which may help them to regulate their emotions and experience more enjoyment.

Source: Rutgers University Coauthors are from Rutgers and the University of Utah.

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