Just like the rest of the world, Australia is dealing with severe opioid addiction and illegal drug usage, from alcohol, all the way to methamphetamines and heroin. However, as noble as it is to deal with the consequences and help people get better over time and hopefully grow more resilient to never experience such issues in the future, it’s impossible to tailor a solution without understanding the causes. For soon-to-be-moms, it can be the sheer stress of pregnancy, the hormonal changes, violence at home, stress at work, or a wide range of other underlying issues that may drive her to seek relief in drug use.
Since the common factor in all of the above involves some form of stress, experts have noticed how beneficial meditation and mindfulness can be in the process of recovery. This long and arduous journey is already riddled with setbacks – so why not make it at least a little less stressful with methods such as mindfulness that help pregnant women overcome their addiction? Let’s see how this wonderful practice can be of help in such situations.
Relieving stress through mindfulness
First of all, understanding what mindfulness is can help patients and medical professionals implement various exercises to increase it over time in the aim to treat addiction. Simply put, it is a state of deep awareness of yourself, your actions and feelings, and your environment at any given moment. It allows you to analyse, understand, and acknowledge different feelings and emotional turmoil that might be at the very core of addiction and other self-destructive behaviours.
Of course, this is by no means the only treatment that should be used, since each pregnant woman dealing with addiction needs an all-around strategy that includes proper medication, behavioural therapy, and the like. However, mindfulness is known to complement all of those incredibly well, and in fact enhance their effectiveness. Studies have shown that it can be as powerful as antidepressant medications, and it lowers your blood pressure, in addition to a slew of other stress-reducing perks that make the journey a bit smoother.
Building a support system
Knowing how mindfulness fits into your overall plan, you can begin to understand the many benefits of structured rehab for pregnant women that entails all the right strategies and several levels of support. Substance abuse carries a risk for you and your baby, and as such, it should be treated with an entire array of supportive mechanisms, from regular counselling all the way to medication that will keep you and your child safe. Only within such a structured system can meditation work in the most optimal way to help the future mom recover.
When you use mindfulness as a part of that overarching system, you make it easier for yourself to stay true to that main goal – to heal. Since every piece of the recovery puzzle serves to tackle a specific part of the issue, you’ll notice that some focus on prevention, others strive to remove the underlying cause, while the rest ensure ongoing medical assistance for various symptoms and consequences of drug use. Mindfulness helps handle the many side-effects of withdrawal, and it also provides support in preventing relapse by reducing stress and increasing self-awareness.
Awareness of the self
While we’re on the subject, self-awareness is a key step of recovery that will help future moms understand their mindset, recognize triggers that might have led to drug use, and provide a safe harbor for processing those emotions properly. Through active meditation, breathing exercises, and conversations with a therapist, you can begin to unveil what has pushed you into drug use. By acknowledging your feelings and thoughts, you’ll be ready to implement strategies to prevent future triggers, whether it’s ending an unhealthy relationship, working on your resilience to everyday stress, or anything else.
Being aware of your state of mind and your mood gives you the chance to actually take control of your thoughts and emotions, rephrase them, find a healthy vent to replace drugs or alcohol, and learn to spot early signs of the very same self-destructive behaviours. Getting to know yourself lets you recognize stress triggers, slow your mind down in response, and fully devote your attention to the practices of self-care that will be a vital part of your recovery.
Changing your brain
Finally, one of the most incredible advantages of using mindful meditation to improve your addiction recovery is the impact of this practice on your brain. Your actual, physical brain changes as a result of consistent meditation, and gives you a much better chance to prevent a relapse. More specifically, meditation has been shown to increase brain volume in areas of your brain where you regulate your emotions, while your amygdala decreases – the part of your brain that handles pain, fear, anxiety, and stress.
The subjects that took part in the process have reported feelings that match these changes in the brain, which means an actual decrease in feeling stressed is the most tangible result a future mom can benefit from while going through this difficult and stressful process.
Although mindfulness is far from a “magic pill” that will take all of your troubles away, it shows immense potential in treating addiction and preventing relapses. If you or anyone you love is going through this ordeal, professional rehabilitation combined with mindfulness is one of the finest ways you can help yourself and the ones you love.
The Carousel would like to thank Sophia Smith for her story.