Did you know you can use meditation to stop drinking?
According to research published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, just 11 minutes of mindfulness training followed by a continued effort to be mindful can help alcoholics lower the amount of alcohol they drink by an average of 9.3 fewer units per week.
I personally learned the benefits of meditation for alcohol cessation when I quit all addictions at once. I used to drink, smoke, and watch adult videos. And I am certainly not proud of those things. Why do I tell you? Because if I can quit all those things with some simple exercises then you can use meditation to stop drinking alcohol.
My biggest regret in my entire life is that I was unable to help my dad stop boozing. He died when I was in my twenties. When I think back, I feel sadness and regret that I couldn’t help him. But I also know that I can now help others to stop drinking in my meditation lessons. And I’ve also been able to help people to stop smoking too.
Meditation helps with what Alcoholics Anonymous calls the “Three Prongs” of alcoholism. Firstly, there’s the mental aspect, in which addicts are robbed of their will. Secondly, there’s a physical aspect that causes cravings. Finally, there is a spiritual aspect that causes discontentment and disconnectedness. Thankfully, meditation can help with those “three prongs”.
Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind on the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude. There are various forms of meditation, including breathing methods, mantras and guided meditations.
In this guide, I am going to show you how to quit drinking with meditation for alcoholism. I’ll share with you the science, my personal insights, and my top exercises so that you can quit drinking today. By the end of this guide, you will see why there are so many benefits of meditation for alcoholics.
Best Types Of Meditation To Stop Drinking Alcohol Today
“Quit Drinking” Meditation Script
The following script is designed to lead you towards the perfect attitude for overcoming alcoholism. When you do this, you will increase mindfulness and also develop forgiveness and self-compassion.
- Sit comfortably with good posture. I recommend sitting in a chair. Place your feet at shoulder-width apart. Make sure your knees are comfortable and not locked. Rest your bottom comfortably on the seat so that your weight is distributed evenly. Lengthen your spine a little. Tuck your chin down slightly to elongate your neck a bit. Now look forward at an angle of 45 degrees, so you’re looking slightly downwards (slightly!).
- Place your hand in Gyan mudra (a mudra is a hand gesture). To do this, place your hands on your thighs, palms facing upwards. Let your third, fourth, and fifth fingers rest outwards. Place the tips of your thumbs and the tips of your index fingers together. This position will help you focus.
- Close your eyes and focus on breathing.
- Observe your breath as it moves in through your nostrils, through your mouth, and down into your diaphragm. Continue to focus on your breathing.
- As you focus on your breathing, certain thoughts and feelings will come to mind. For instance, as an alcoholic, you might think, “I can’t believe I’m so addicted to alcohol”. When these thoughts occur, observe them. Do not fight them. Do not hold on to them. Simply observe them. You may also experience feelings, such as a craving for a beer or a glass of wine. Again, simply observe these thoughts and feelings and return to focusing on your breath.
- Now I want you to begin to recite a mantra. The mantra is “I forgive myself for having an addiction. I am here now, and I give myself love, strength, and the power to heal.”
- While you are reciting this mantra, continue to focus on your breath. You will continue to experience thoughts and feelings, and that is completely fine. Just let them come and go as they will, while you continue to focus on breathing.
- Continue for 20 minutes.
- At the end, say to yourself, “May I live a happy, healthy life”.
This simple exercise will make you more mindful and will cultivate self-forgiveness and self-compassion. It is the best meditation to stop drinking alcohol.
There are more exercises that are beneficial for alcohol cessation. Let’s take a look.
Body Scan (Jon Kabat Zinn method)
Cravings for alcohol usually begin as a physical sensation in the body. For instance, you may start to feel irritable or itchy when you don’t drink. This is the craving manifesting physically in your body.
The problem is that most people are not conscious of these triggers until too late. By the time you’re conscious of that itch telling you to drink, it’s already gotten hold of you.
You need to become aware of your triggers so that you can control them before they make you drink.
The best way to do this is by using the body scan exercise. It’s a method that makes you more conscious of sensations in your body. When you practice this exercise, you will take control of all those little signals that tell you to drink. Here is how to do Body Scan Meditation.
Science proves that one of the best meditations to quit drinking is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is simply the practice of being conscious of the present moment.
When we have an addiction, we are often lost in our thoughts. We think of ways to get a hit of our addiction, or ways to recover from our addiction, or just plain thinking about our addiction. We don’t focus on the present moment.
When you practice mindfulness, you increase consciousness and gain self-control. And this will help you to be less reactive to thoughts and cravings.
This is scientifically proven to be an effective type of meditation to stop drinking.
Often, addictions like alcohol and cigarettes have an emotional undertone . Many people become addicts after trauma or after painful periods in life.
Tough times can leave us feeling empty, angry, depressed, or just plain negative. And these emotions can make us reach for a glass of beer or wine.
Is there an emotional undercurrent to your drinking? Is it caused or motivated by anger or resentment, or other negative feelings towards yourself or someone else?
If so, I highly recommend that you practice Loving Kindness.
You will find it easier to quit drinking when you feel loved and supported. And that is what Loving Kindness will give you. Refer to our main menu to a guide to Loving Kindness Meditation.
More types of meditation to quit drinking
As well as using the exercises above, I recommend trying the following types of meditation to stop drinking:
Vipassana: Buddhist method in which you observe your thoughts and feelings. Increases self-control to reduce the effects of cravings. If you’d like to learn more about this, I recommend the works of S N Goenka.
Guided meditations for drinking cessation: For beginners, the easiest way to use meditation to quit drinking is with some guided meditations for alcoholism. These are available on Youtube. However, research from Harvard Medical School shows that this method is not as effective as a proper meditation lesson.
Yoga and tai chi: These physical exercises create positive feeling and motivation to stop boozing. If you’d like to learn more, I personally recommend tai chi teacher Paul Lam.
Breathing methods: Excellent way of cultivating inner peace and relaxation if you stress-drink. If you’d like to know more, I recommend reading some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books.
Mantras: Recite a relaxing and motivational mantra such as “I embrace my new, healthy, drink-free life.” This will produce positive thoughts to motivate you. It is a method recommended by Deepak Chopra.
If you need help forming the mindfulness habit, you can try using an app. For instance, there is Headspace, designed by former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, and other apps like Unwinding Anxiety, made by Judson Brewer, director of research at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Do note that apps are not as effective as proper meditation according to research from Harvard Medical School. The best way to learn is with a proper meditation teacher like myself.
Also, consider other aspects of alcohol cessation. Eric L. Garland and Matthew O. Howard state that you should consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing. But they do also state that Mindfulness-Based Intervention (MBI) is one of the most promising new treatments. [from the journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice]
Benefits of using meditation for stopping drinking
Many people ask me “Can meditation help with alcoholism”. The answer is a huge yes! And if you’ve been considering the best way to stop drinking alcohol, meditation should be on your list.
As you may know, there are lots of exercises and therapies for alcoholics:
A short list includes:
- Residential care
- Addiction helplines
- Medications for alcohol dependence
- Alcohol rehab centres
- Alcoholics Anonymous
However, in my experience, there is nothing more effective than meditation for alcoholism.
My personal insight
In my experience, most methods of quitting drinking take power away from you. Medications for alcoholism may work sometimes, but they also make you dependent on a tablet. Alcohol rehab centres can help for a while, but many people relapse after they leave .
Meditation is different. One of the best things about using meditation for alcoholism is that it is empowering.
I wholeheartedly believe in empowering people. And I think that the best way to do that is by teaching you the powers that you have within yourself. Not a tablet. Not a therapist. You. You are the cure to your problem. I believe that with every fibre of my being.
So why meditate? Simple. It gives you the power to take control of alcoholism by using your mind.
And I know, you might think, “I don’t have that power.” And you are wrong. You have the power to change.
When you learn to meditate, you learn to control your mind and your emotions. You learn to take control of your cravings. And, more than anything, you discover that you have the power to naturally quit alcohol.
Meditation is a very empowering practice. More than any other technique for quitting drinking, meditation puts you in control.
Not only this but there are more than 100 proven benefits of meditation. So not only can you quit drinking with meditation, you will get a ton of other benefits from it too.
Science on meditation and quitting drinking
Research published by the International Journal Of Neuropsychopharmacology concluded that alcoholics who practice mindfulness for just eleven minutes a day end up swigging less beer per week (compared to a control group).
Researchers at University College London took a group of 68 adult alcoholics and taught them one single 11-minute lesson in mindfulness. Specifically, they focused on bodily feelings and cravings.
The people in the mindfulness group were taught to mindfully observe their thoughts and feelings (and especially their cravings) for eleven minutes per day.
The control group was taught relaxation techniques that were designed to reduce cravings.
During the following week, the group that had been taught mindfulness drank on average 9.3 units of alcohol less than they had done the week before. And this after just one single eleven-minute lesson in mindfulness.
The study’s authors state that mindfulness is an effective treatment for alcoholics. They recommend using mindfulness meditation to quit drinking.
Also, research shows that meditation increases control of the posterior cingulate cortex, which is the part of the brain that is activated by cravings and stress. This means you will have more control over your cravings for alcohol.
So, that’s why you should use meditation for alcoholism.
Now let me say one last time. You can quit drinking. You have the power. And I am here to help you.
When it comes to quitting drinking, meditation can help in significant ways.
When you meditate, you become more consciously aware of the cravings and the triggers that make you drink. You also boost your willpower and sharpen your mind. Plus, even though you are using meditation for alcoholism, you will also get lots of additional health bonuses.
One important thing to remember is that the journey doesn’t end after going without drinking for a month or so, it continues. That’s why it’s important to use mindfulness-based relapse prevention to prevent you from starting drinking again. Just like mindful eating and mindful smoking cessation, it is important to make mindfulness a part of your life after you have started your recovery. This will help prevent alcohol relapse.
Are you ready to quit drinking? Are you ready to embrace a new, healthy life? Book an online meditation lesson with me today.
Mindfulness Meditation for Alcohol Relapse Prevention: A Feasibility Pilot Study , Aleksandra Zgierska, MD, PhD Department of Family Medicine (AZ, DR, MZ, MM, MF), University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4106278/