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    This Is How Meditation and Mindfulness Can Help You If You Have an Addiction

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    Overcoming an addiction is not an easy task. We are faced with alterations in the normal functioning of our body and mind that create a dependence on a substance, activity or relationship, as explained by the World Health Organization itself.  In other words, an addiction is anything that causes us to resort repeatedly and compulsively to the consumption of a product or certain behavior, without thinking about the inevitable consequences for our physical and mental health.

    As we can see, there are not only addictions to substances, but, as the WHO itself states, 1 in 4 people suffer from behavioral disorders linked to these non-substance dependencies, such as technology; in Spain between 4 and 10% of children and adolescents are addicted to cell phones. In addition, between 1 and 10% of young people in Western countries make uncontrolled use of video games. Meanwhile, if we talk about drugs, the average age of hospital admissions is 35.6 years and 82.9% are male; cocaine is the one that causes the highest number of admissions, followed by cannabis and opioids, according to the latest report of the Spanish Observatory of drugs and addictions published by the Ministry of Health.

    How addiction manifests itself

    The truth is that, in relation to addictions, we can raise many doubts. From when and for what reasons we lose control, to the question of whether addictions may have a genetic component and, above all, whether they can really be overcome. “The reward, reinforcement or pleasure system is an area in our brain responsible for giving us a feeling of well-being and, as a consequence, inducing us to repeat a behavior. This primitive area of the brain is defined so that certain behaviors can be maintained and with them our survival as a being and as a species; in this circuit or reward system, is where addictions are installed. When I consume “X” I have the sensation of a high due to an excessive release of dopamine, which will not last long and is artificial. My brain will understand it as a pleasant response and will invite me through motivation to repeat that consumption or behavior”, says César Forcadell, an expert in addictions, who directs the MBAR program for Addiction Recovery based on Mindfulness and is a collaborator of the meditation app Petit BamBou. 

    Strategies to overcome addiction

    “Addiction is a chronic disease that can relapse, but with treatment and support, it is possible to recover,” reveals César Forcadell. Above all, it is necessary to count on the help of experts in addictions, who know how to give us the strategies to deal with these complex situations. And, among these ‘weapons’, we can count on meditation and mindfulness, two very useful techniques for people who are in the process of recovery, although the situation in which each patient finds himself must always be assessed beforehand.

     What do they bring to the patient who is facing an addiction?

    Reduces stress and anxiety levels.

    Improves self-control and decision making.

    Increases body sensations, which helps to stay in the present moment.

    Teaches you to deal with destructive thoughts.

    Improves attention and concentration.

    Prevents relapses.

    Reduces insomnia.

    This is how mindfulness can help

    There are studies that help to corroborate these benefits, as is the case of one carried out by the University of Barcelona, which concluded that the practice of mindfulness increases the perception of the triggers of drug dependence and the ability to stop and observe the discomfort or fear. Meanwhile, another report by researchers from the Universities of London and Exeter (England) provides evidence that breathing exercises can reduce alcohol consumption by reducing anxiety and depression. The Comillas Pontifical University also carried out a review on the role of mindfulness in adolescents with addiction to new technologies: it concludes that it works as a protective factor through variables such as reduced impulsivity. In short, mindfulness techniques have been shown to have a positive influence on the low emotional control and feelings such as guilt, anger or sadness common in the addicted person, according to the Center for Mindfulness and Medicine at the University of Massachusetts.

    Addiction, a genetic problem?

    “Studies have shown that there are certain genes that can increase the likelihood of developing an addiction. However, having them does not guarantee addiction; environmental and lifestyle factors also play an important role,” says the expert. But, of course, the question is how much influence does the environment have?  “Addiction is a complex disorder that results from the interaction between biological, psychological and environmental factors. In general, it is believed that genetic influence accounts for about 40-60% of the risk of developing an addiction. The rest of the risk is due to environmental and psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, depression and exposure to addictive substances,” clarifies César Forcadell. From the psychological point of view, factors such as stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, social maladjustment or depression intervene.

    Common features of addictions

    Each case is different and each type of addiction usually has a different origin and treatment. But we can say that, in general, they all have similar traits:

    Intense desire or compulsion.

    Loss of control.

    Tolerance: this means that over time increasing amounts may be needed to experience the same effects.

    Abstinence.

    Impacts on daily life: work difficulties, financial problems, physical and mental health and relational problems.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel https://youtube.com/@resonanceCR

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