There’s a physical element to alcohol addiction, and there’s a mental element to it, and it’s probably a mistake to try to separate these things too much.
It takes more than just wanting to stop drinking, desire alone doesn’t get the job done, it’s going to take serious physical action but those physical actions are controlled by the brain and the mind, so it’s all tied together, and strengthening your mind is a key aspect of overcoming alcoholism.
Anxiety and depression can be big factors in alcoholism, so can unaddressed traumas, so therapy and counseling to help sort out the things that are troubling your mind. Sometimes, medication is necessary to help with anxiety and depression too, and there’s nothing wrong or weak about fixing a chemical imbalance in your brain using medicine.
In addition to therapy, medication, and other ways to work on your mind and your mental health, many people find solace through meditation and practicing mindfulness.
Here is an excerpt from a Washington Post article by Keri Wiginton that talks about her struggles to stop drinking everyday, and how she was able to overcome them with mindfulness.
“If you feel bad and do something to feel better — like reach for a drink or check your Facebook feed — your brain learns to repeat this process. Forming a habit, whether healthy or not, can happen in a matter of weeks, said Brewer, a psychiatrist who uses mindfulness to treat addiction. Focusing more on the present moment can help break the cycle.
Practicing just 11 minutes of mindfulness — like paying attention to your breath — helped heavy drinkers cut back, according to a study out of University College London. Brewer showed that using awareness techniques were more effective than the gold-standard behavioral treatment at getting people to quit smoking.”Keri Wiginton for the Washington Post
It’s worth mentioning that the author starts their article by saying they aren’t an alcoholic, despite that they found themselves drinking everyday and having a very difficult time stopping, so this advice may vary for people who consider themselves to be alcoholics, or functional alcoholics, or even people who aren’t ready to admit that they’re dependent on alcohol.
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. Finding a way to show gratitude each day can help you appreciate the things you have, even if you feel like your life is a mess or in shambles, and this little spark of hope can be enough to guide some people towards drinking less and less often.
Stop Drinking Meditation
Here is a meditation session from Steph at ShalOm that’s nice and short so it’s great for someone who is just starting out and doesn’t have practise in long meditation sessions. The person leading this meditation has worked to overcome their own struggles with addiction, so there’s a level of understanding here.
Take a few moments to listen to the following guided meditation designed to help you stop drinking and overcome addictions.
Remember that what works for one person might not work for everyone else, and obviously listening to one 13 minute clip probably won’t instantly make you stop drinking forever, but it’s a step.
The whole process of quitting drinking, or doing anything difficult in life for that matter, is really just a series of steps.
When you can break down a huge challenge into small pieces that are much more manageable, suddenly the impossible starts to feel very doable.
Think of quitting drinking as an ongoing task. Technically, the day you have your last drink, you’ve done it – you’ve quit drinking – but it’s an ongoing process to make sure that stays your last drink, and that’s the challenge.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation to stop drinking can give you that extra little awareness about your mind, what triggers you to drink, and your coping mechanisms. This awareness can be enough to give you the tools you need to stay sober.
If you’re dealing with a lot of other issues, for example if you drink to help with chronic pain, or you drink when you’re feeling anxious, it’s essential to address these underlying triggers because the drinking is acting as a coping mechanism to deal with them, and even if you manage to stop drinking, you’ll still have those other issues and they’ll make it so much harder to stay sober.
Dealing with your trauma, your mental health struggles, or any other things that trigger you to drink will make it a lot easier to stop drinking. If you’re using alcohol as a bandage, it’s still necessary to treat the initial wound, otherwise you’ll always need to keep using bandages without ever healing the wound. By healing the wound, you won’t need the bandage anymore, or at the very least it will be a lot easier to let go of alcohol when you aren’t using it to self-medicate as a way to deal with other issues in your life.
Commonly asked questions: Is there free time in rehab?
More Meditation for Alcoholism
Here are some additional meditations and mindfulness exercises to help you on this journey. We’re sticking to shorter ones for now, as this is meant to serve as more of an introduction to see if this path is something that clicks for you.
Final Thoughts on Meditation to Stop Drinking
Give it a try!
It might not be the magic silver bullet you’re looking for, but it can be another tool in your toolkit that gives you a little extra motivation and a little bit better coping skills. Sometimes, it’s not just one thing that’s going to help you stop drinking, it’s a collection of things, and it means re-arranging your life in a certain way, and taking a different outlook on your life, and mindfulness and meditation can be very valuable practices for doing that, even for people who aren’t alcoholics.