Meditation and Addictions

British Journal of Addiction

Ever since Edmund Jacobson's pioneering work on muscular relaxation in the 1920's, numerous investigations have demonstrated the value of deep relaxation techniques (yoga nidra) in coping with stress.

Similarly, in the last ten years, scientists have been taking interest in simple yogic meditation techniques. A number of very promising results have emerged. A short daily period of simple meditation practice produces psycho-physiological effects which are in the direction of lowered autonomic arousal. There is a reduction in blood pressure and an increase in alpha activity. This effect is known as the 'stay and play' response, antithesis to 'fight or flight'.

Since anxiety and tension are usually important cues for excessive drinking and drug use, we can well ask whether relaxation and meditation will reduce drug consumption. To date, several studies claim to have demonstrated this effect, but they have failed to follow an adequate methodology.

In some of the areas of modern research, the vein has been fully excavated. There is now more dross than ore and a new mine should be opened forthwith to prevent large scale redundancies in the scientific community. The effects of meditation on the motivation to use drugs is one area which now needs to be rigorously researched. Meditation is no longer a technique to be used only in the monastery or the joss-house.

"All men, especially the secular, as well as the religious, should be taught this meditation, for it is a refuge to which one can retreat when faced with stressful situations." (Francisco Osuna, C. 1000 AD)

Extracted from the leading Editorial of British Journal of Addiction.