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 of alcohol .

The study’s lead author, Dr Sunjeev Kamboj (UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit) said, “A simple exercise in mindfulness can help drinkers cut back [quickly]”. Of course, one very simple way to get started is to book a meditation lesson with me today. 

Alcoholics Anonymous defines alcoholism as a three-pronged illness. 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.  Clearly, it is a challenging affliction. But you do have the power to beat alcohol dependency.

As someone who used to suffer from numerous addictions, trust me when I tell you: You can use meditation to quit drinking. There are some powerful psychological exercises for alcoholism, and they have been proven to help us kick the habit.

Before I quit every addiction simultaneously, 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 feel optimistic that I can now help others to stop drinking.  

When I was caught in the cycle of an addictive personality, my life was a blur. I used to jump from one addiction to the next, boozing then smoking then binging on candy.

Then one day, many years ago,  I happened to read a book about mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a simple practice. It means focusing the mind on the present moment and being consciously aware.

It’s effortless but powerful.

I studied every aspect of mindfulness and meditation. Quit drinking. Started living a healthier life. And a few years later, I became a meditation teacher and launched this very blog.

Now, today, I teach people how to use meditation to stop drinking, to quit smoking, and to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve.

So that brings us to this article today.

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 meditation makes it easy to quit drinking alcohol.

Best Types Of Meditation To Stop Drinking Alcohol Today

  Quit Drinking Meditation Script

This script is designed to lead you towards the perfect attitude for overcoming your addiction. It will boost your mindfulness while also helping with aspects of forgiveness and self-compassion.

  1. Sit comfortably with good posture. I recommend sitting in a chair. Place your feet at shoulder-width apart, and make sure your knees are comfortable and not locked. Your bottom should be rested comfortably on the seat so that your weight is distributed evenly. Lengthen your spine a little. Tuck your chin down slightly, which will elongate your neck a bit. Now look forward at an angle of 45 degrees, so you’re looking slightly downwards (slightly!).
  2. 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.
  3. Close your eyes and focus on breathing. Observe your breath as it moves in through your nostrils, back through your mouth, and down into your diaphragm. Continue to focus on your breathing.
  4. 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”. Observe these thoughts. 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.
  5. Now I want you to begin to recite a mantra. The mantra is “I forgive myself for having an addiction. I am here now. I give myself love. I give myself strength. I give myself the power to heal.”
  6. 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.
  7. Continue for 20 minutes.
  8. At the end, say to yourself, “May I live a happy, healthy life”.

This simple exercise will make you more mindful and will aid you in developing 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. 

The following are the best meditations for quitting drinking alcohol.

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.

This is definitely one of the best meditations for alcoholism. 

Mindfulness Meditation 

Science proves that the best meditation 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, thinking of ways to get a hit of our addiction, or ways to recover from our addiction, or just plain thinking about our addiction. We’re never really now. We are not conscious of the present moment.

Mindfulness makes us more conscious. And when we become more aware, we take control.

This is scientifically proven to be the best meditation to stop drinking.  

Loving Kindness 

Often, addictions like alcohol and cigarettes have an emotional undertone [2]. Many people become addicts after trauma or after painful periods in life.

Difficult times can leave us feeling empty, angry, depressed, or just plain negative, and these emotions can make us reach for a glass of beer, wine, or whatever your favourite poison is.

Is there are 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.

Quitting drinking will be much easier when you feel loved and supported. And that is precisely what Loving Kindness will give you. 

 More methods

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. Of 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. These are available on Youtube.

Yoga and tai chi: These physical exercises create positive feeling and motivation so you’re in the right mindset to stop boozing.

Breathing methods: Excellent way of cultivating inner peace and relaxation if you stress-drink. Of 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 like 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 Mardical School. The best way to learn is with a proper meditation teacher like myself.

It is important to consider other aspects of cessation too. In the 2018 article Mindfulness-Based Treatment Of Addiction: Current State Of The Field And Envisioning The Next Wave Of Research, published by the journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice,  Eric L. Garland and Matthew O. Howard state that you should also 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. 

woman drinking alcohol alcoholism

Benefits of using meditation to stop drinking 

Many people ask me, “How does meditation help with alcoholism?” When you learn to meditate, you will find the power to stop cravings and overcome addictions.

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.

 There are so many other exercises and therapies for the alcoholic, ranging from residential care to hypnotherapy.

A shortlist includes:

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 [1].

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 quit alcohol naturally. Meditating 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.

And science shows that it works.

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).

The people in the mindfulness group were taught to mindfully observe their thoughts and feelings (and especially their cravings) for eleven minutes per day.

University College London took a group of 68 adult alcoholics and taught them one single 11-minute lesson in mindfulness, which particularly focused on being conscious of bodily feelings and cravings.

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 and recommend the use of mindfulness meditation to quit drinking.

Research also shows that meditation increases control of the posterior cingulate cortex, which is the part of the brain that is activated by cravings and stress, essentially meaning you will have more control over your cravings for alcohol.

So, that’s why you should use meditation for alcoholism.  

Summary

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 make your mind sharper. 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 just  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 to prevent alcohol relapse.

I’ve personally been successful in quitting drinking with meditation. And I hope this guide helps you to stop drinking too.

Leave a comment and remember to subscribe.

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/

Share This Now:

Written by Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.