Mind-Body Medicine for Addiction Treatment


When it comes to addiction recovery, there are plenty of physical treatment forms, such as addiction detox. But to give themselves the best shot at being healthier, people with addiction need to treat the mind as well as the body, which is why mind-body medicine has become such a key component to recovery. In fact, the National Institutes of Health has discovered that is particularly effective when used during the treatment of addiction, and it has become a common factor in treatment centers across the country. Addiction is a mental disease, will means mind-body medicine will remain a crucial component of addiction recovery programs in the future.

What is mind-body medicine?

Mind-body medicine concentrates on the connection between the mind and the body to improve health and/or modify behavior. In the case of addiction, it utilizes behavioral and lifestyle intervention treatments, such as yoga, acupuncture, guided meditation, Pilates, and mindfulness, to fully address the condition. These treatments are most successful when integrated with traditional medical procedures, though some are used as standalone practices. In either case, the point is to affect mental as well as physical health. Yoga and pilates are great exercises, and they also reduce stress and anxiety; meditation will not improve your health directly, but it will help you stay focused and calm while managing or recovering from a difficult condition. When they use mind-body intervention in conjunction with prescribed treatment, people with chronic pain, nausea, or clinical depression can particularly benefit from these techniques and should speak with their doctor if they have yet to explore the possibilities.

How does mind-body medicine help treat addiction?

Mind-body medicine helps people with addiction because it is a holistic form of treatment that improves your mental wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing. Addiction rewires the brain’s neural reward system to make the addict’s substance of choice their main concern, prioritizing it above things like their job, their health, and their relationships. When you use mind-body intervention methods during recovery, you unpack the neurological disorder at the core of the disease while also addressing the physical impact of substance abuse.

Underlying all of this is another aspect of recovery that also plays a crucial role here: behavioral therapy. Mind-body medicine is most effective when it becomes a healthy habit that replaces an unhealthy habit, like substance abuse. But that is easier said than done. After all, our habits are our habits for a reason, and most of the time, we are not even aware that we are forming them. Intentionally forming a new habit is a much more difficult task than it might appear. That is where behavioral therapy comes in. Understanding your behavioral process will make mind-body therapy easier and more effective, and it will help you incorporate it into your healthier lifestyle. In other words, it becomes a new part of your life, not just something you do in recovery.

What are the best mind-body treatments for addiction?

Mind-body medicine is a little bit like art or philosophy: if it doesn’t speak to you, you’re unlikely to respond. Not every treatment method works for every individual, and part of the process involves discovering which one is most helpful. It will be different for everyone. However, there are a few tried-and-true forms of mind-body medicine that have a particularly good track record with addiction. They are:

  • Meditation

    Not only can meditation reduce stress, but it can also be like a workout for your brain. Inviting moments of peace, quiet, and calm can slow down your neurological activity, allowing your mind to “breathe” and recharge. Having a clear head makes recovery more manageable. 
  • Yoga

    People of any ability or fitness level can practice yoga, which has physical as well as meditative benefits. Sometimes, substance abuse makes our bodies sluggish and weak. Yoga is a low impact way to improve that, and unlike a conventional gym workout, there is a spiritual aspect that many people find comforting.
  • Acupuncture

    The goal of acupuncture is to promote energy balance throughout your body. People use it to treat a variety of mental and physical conditions, but it is most effective in helping reduce stress and anxiety, and when you limit those feelings, your recovery process becomes easier to navigate.

It is important to note that none of these treatments cure addiction, nor do they prevent it. But there is an obvious benefit to using mind-body medicine to help with recovery. In fact, none of these practices are new to the process. The 12 Steps promoted by AA focus on concepts of mindfulness and gratitude, which are components of mind-body intervention. Same with mutual-help groups, which also have an important social support system that promotes mind-body health.

If you’d like to learn more about the alcoholism treatment programs at Miramar Recovery, please call (949) 691-5036 to schedule a free consultation. We are ready to help you overcome your addiction with a treatment program that’s been tailored to meet your unique needs.


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