How Meditation Can Aid in Recovery

When seeking recovery from substance abuse it is often helpful to use all the tools at one’s disposal to wage this war. Meditation and mindfulness are a few additional methods that individuals in recovery are employing to achieve greater and lasting success.

Sobriety homes have the great privilege of helping people struggling with addiction at their most vulnerable state. Many drug rehabilitation programs have begun to merge traditional evidence-based treatment with holistic mind-body practices often practiced in the eastern hemisphere. The goal is to provide a well-rounded treatment that increases the resilience of the addict. But, can these eastern methods of yoga or meditation really work for recovering addicts?


Meditation is a fusing of the mind and body. This type of therapy has been used for thousands of years in the eastern hemisphere. Originally intended to aid in spiritual connection, as well as achieve relaxation and stress relief.

The goal of meditation is to achieve a state of relaxation and a calm mind. A relaxed state is achieved by focusing your attention by removing distracting random thoughts that create a crowded mindset.  

Meditation does not require an extensive amount of time. When practiced regularly, even a few minutes can help a person achieve a calmer state and peace. Perhaps the greatest luxury is that meditation can be done anytime and anywhere.  


There are various types of meditation. But, preference is what determines the effectiveness of meditation. Below are the various types of meditation.

  • Mindfulness meditation
    Mindfulness meditation is quite common. It is heavily practiced in the western hemisphere. With roots in Buddhism, mindfulness meditation combines concentration with awareness. Basically, a person identifies thoughts that are prevailing in their life and instead of involving themselves with those thoughts, the meditator merely observes the thoughts without coming to a judgment.  
  • Spiritual meditation
    Spiritual meditation is practiced by people of varying faiths. Christianity, Hinduism, and Daoism teach and apply meditation in their belief systems. When spiritual meditation is practiced, silence is applied to connect to God or in eastern religions, the universe.  
  • Focused meditation
    Focused meditation is best for those seeking to gain focus in life. This type of meditation focuses on a single thought without allowing your mind to wander. Focused meditation may involve focusing on a candle flame, breathing, or a particular song to prevent wandering thoughts from breaking concentration. 
  • Movement meditation|
    For those who prefer a wandering mind, movement meditation works best. This form of meditation allows movement to help guide the person. Walking, yoga, or painting are examples of purposeful motion that helps the meditator destress.  
  • Mantra meditation
    Mantra meditation allows the person to set their attention on a single word, phrase, or sound. The meditator repeats the word, phrase, or sound in a chanting fashion for an elongated period of time. The goal is to become more attuned with one’s environment.  
  • Transcendental meditation
    In transcendental meditation, the meditator silently repeats their personal mantra to achieve a state of rest and relaxation. This type of meditation often assists a person in achieving inner peace without putting forth effort or focus to concentrate.
  • Progressive relaxation
    Progressive relaxation is used to de-stress or unwind before going to bed. It involves slowly tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time throughout the body. The result of this type of meditation is meant to reduce physical tension and promote relaxation.
  • Visualization meditation
    In visualization meditation, a person visualizes positive images using all senses to add as many details as possible. This type of meditation increases motivation in efforts to accomplish a goal. In addition, visualization meditation improves mood, reduces stress, and generates inner peace.  

Again, there is no right or wrong method when it comes to meditation. One must find the form of meditation that best suits them.  


The short answer is yes. 

Meditation is a particular type of mind-body therapy that can help addicts in recovery. There is now evidence that recent studies have shown that mindfulness-based practice such as meditation reduces drug and alcohol use. 

In addition, it helps to reduce cravings and the risk of relapse.  

Meditation alone does not circumvent a comprehensive drug rehab program, evidence-based therapy, or recovery support services provided through sober living programs. Meditation is a valuable holistic tool that can enhance recovery alongside conventional drug rehab programs.

Research shows meditation:

  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Helps individuals manage stress
  • Decreases insomnia
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety
  • Reduces symptoms of depression
  • Improves mood
  • Decreases pain

Many people in recovery struggle with mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression. It is essential that recovering addicts find healthy ways to manage stress, which is a primary cause of alcohol and drug abuse.  

When practiced regularly, meditation can help recovering addicts remain calm, cope with triggers, and avoid the potential for relapse. Self-awareness is developed and improves mental functioning, which aids recovering addicts for the long term.  


When in recovery, one can be intimidated by the idea of meditation. It may be viewed as weak, mystical, magical, or downright false. However, when a recovering addict learns about meditation and embraces it, great things can happen.

Below are a few steps to help someone in recovery begin successfully.  

  1. Find a distraction-free environment that is quiet.
  2. Sit down or lie down (whichever is most comfortable).
  3. Be still and focus on your breathing. Or, you can choose to chant a personal mantra out loud or to yourself and focus on that.
  4. Maintain an open mind.
  5. Start with just a few minutes at a time and gradually work up to longer meditation sessions.

Meditation does not require a person in recovery to be spiritual or a member of any specific religious sect. Instead, simply focus on developing an awareness of your present feelings, senses, thoughts, and surroundings without placing any judgment.


Clearly, meditation is a powerful recovery tool, but there remain general questions such as, “Can meditation help recovery?” The truth is the effectiveness of meditation is dependent upon the individual. Therefore, recovering addicts should learn as much as possible about meditation and choose a method that seems natural. If it does not work, do not be afraid to try another method.  


The 12 steps are a common method to aid recovering alcoholics obtain and sustain sobriety. Quite common in America, the 12 steps have proven to be a powerful tool.  

Below are the 12 steps:

Step 1: Admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: Entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Step 7 is a test of humility. It is also a meditative approach to sobriety. It requires that you ask a higher power to remove the defects in one’s character that have emerged from the logical flow of steps one through six. The previous steps cultivate awareness of one’s shortcomings. But step 7 requires action.

Success with step 7 is contingent on owning one’s shortcomings. Below are 3 keys to help successful attainment of step 7 and most importantly, sustained sobriety.

  1. Prioritize character-building over comfort.
    Recognize and accept that emotional discomfort and pain are a part of the process and of life. Changing one’s life isn’t simple, and often uncomfortable. Feeling emotional pain and not seeking drugs or alcohol is representative of recovery.   
  1. Focus on being humble and selfless.
    Humility is necessary for living a sober and fulfilling life. Without it, a recovering addict will not be able to see themselves honestly and accept their shortcomings. In addition, it helps the recovering addict understand that they are not the only person who feels pain and discomfort.    
  1. Be patient.
    Change doesn’t happen immediately. If a recovering addict truly desires change, it will take time. Time to heal. Time to understand. Time to learn. But, with time the shortcomings and defects begin to dwindle and disappear resulting in a stronger person.  

Recovering addicts have many options available to them to assist in their achieving sobriety. It only takes effort.  

Does your Sobriety home offer meditation education for residents? What methods aside from traditional therapy do you provide in your sobriety home?

Shared Housing Academy offers training that helps homeowners build programs within their homes that enhance and improve sobriety and long-term success. 

Contact us today for support in creating programs in your home that will enhance success with sobriety.

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