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New Study Proves The Buddha Right About Craving: Mindfulness and Relapse Prevention

According to a new study out of Division of Substance Abuse at Columbia Psychiatry, when it comes to long-term results, a treatment program structured to incorporate mindfulness meditation is better for supporting participants in relapse prevention (a way to help people maintain sobriety after release from intensive drug and alcohol treatment).

Personal experience in mind, it makes sense to me that the simple act of encouraging awareness helps addicts to sheild against impulsive behavior in the long term. In the Dhammapada, where mindfulness is introduced, the Buddha often discusses it as a technique to safeguard the mind: “The mind is very difficult to see, very delicate and subtle; it moves and lands wherever it pleases. The wise one should guard his mind, for a guarded mind brings happiness.”

A recent study using mindfulness to reduce chocolate cravings showed that it doesn't just work for addicts. The awareness of subtle body sensation, emotional and mental states that make up craving creates space between stimulus and response and helps us to disengage and avoid identifying with sensation. The skill is especially valuable because it can be practiced anywhere and everywhere, and once developed it can be applied in almost any situation.

Teachers like Kevin Griffin and Noah Levine have been navigating the overlap of the Buddhist and recovery communities for years and advocating for its recognition. In fact, even A.A.’s famous Dr. Bob suggested in 1944 that the 8-fold path could be used a substitute for 12-step recovery: “Consider the eight-part program laid down in Buddhism... The Buddhist philosophy, as exemplified by these eight points, could be literally adopted by AA as a substitute for or addition to the Twelve Steps.”

However, this study marks clear evidence that mindfulness alone is effective as a relapse-prevention technique and actually it out-performed the 12-step model.
Mindfulness was enough to tip the scales: “
About 9 percent of the participants in the mindfulness group reported drug use after a year, compared to about 14 percent in the 12-step program group and 17 percent in the traditional relapse-prevention group.”

Read More: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/20/us-mindfulness-therapy-drug-idUSBREA2J2AV20140320

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