Mind Over Matter: Using Mindfulness to Curb Opioid Cravings

Mind Over Matter: Using Mindfulness to Curb Opioid Cravings

In a randomized trial, recent studies showed that individuals experiencing opioid use disorder benefited from mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness has gained attention and popularity in recent years due to the positive impact it has shown to have on stress, tension, and thought patterns.

Using mindfulness, individuals can reframe their thinking. Researchers have explained that this method helps people have an approach that is healthy and can help overcome opioid addiction by increasing the chances of continuing and finishing treatment.

The pilot study and the second phase showed encouraging results, suggesting that mindfulness training can be used to create a better protocol for opioid treatment. During recent research, Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) intervention slashed treatment dropout rates by 59%. Further, it decreased relapse incidents by 42%, leading researchers to believe there is a definite place for mindfulness practices in addiction rehabilitation.

Why does this strategy work? It could be that individuals with opioid use disorder have changes in their brains, making them only receptive to the reward felt by experiencing opioid highs. MORE helps users retrain their brains with healthy activities, like noticing how a good meal tastes, the beauty of a serene landscape, or their favorite smells.

The practice of mindfulness teaches everyone to focus on the present. You meditate on your breathing and what you sense in the current moment. It has also been used to help manage pain and may be combined with medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Studies are ongoing, but the initial results are positive. Mindfulness may be used to change the current standard of care, giving those with opioid use disorder a greater chance at sobriety. Larger research studies are planned to design more protocols that integrate MORE. In the meantime, researchers are looking for the best ways to train clinicians on using mindfulness techniques to help with substance abuse treatment.

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