Top 5 Mind-Body Medicines for Treating Addiction

I am sometimes amused when people being treated for drug or alcohol addiction tell me that they don’t want to take medicine to help them through the recovery process.

Posted on | George Joseph, LCDC | Comments ()

I am sometimes amused when people being treated for drug or alcohol addiction tell me that they don’t want to take medicine to help them through the recovery process.


If they were willing to take heavy doses of vodka or pills, why would they refuse therapeutic medications? I’ve come to understand that it’s because they truly want to feel what it is like to be clean and sober. When people genuinely want to get well and are committed to the necessary lifestyle and behavioral changes, they can, in most cases, heal without medication. 
Common After-Effects of Getting Sober

When people are active in addiction or in early recovery, they often experience a variety of negative reactions brought on, in many cases, by imbalanced brain chemistry stemming from their drug use. Symptoms include: 

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Bi-polar disorder
  • Constant state of hyper vigilance
  • Depression
  • Looping or repetitive thoughts
  • Psychosis
  • Thoughts and behaviors resembling schizophrenia

When your body and brain are in optimal emotional, physical and mental health, your brain waves synchronize appropriately to the stimuli around you. Your brain produces adequate amounts of neurotransmitters to help you feel alert, relaxed, focused and peaceful. However, when you are under mental or emotional stress, eating an unbalanced diet, consuming excessive amounts of caffeine, alcohol or other mind-altering substances, the natural production of these neurotransmitters becomes unbalanced. 

The #1 need cited by patients entering substance-abuse or psychological treatment is to find peace of mind. The use of mind-body methods discussed below has proven effective in helping clients do just that. 

Top 5 Mind-Body Medicines  

  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Guided Imagery
  • Affirmation

Let’s begin with conscious breathing – the cornerstone of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health. Deep, conscious breathing improves blood circulation, lowers one’s heart rate and blood pressure, and improves strength and endurance. Most peoples’ breathing is shallow and does not circulate sufficient oxygen throughout their systems. The result is fatigue, stress, anxiety and a lower immunity to disease. Deep, conscious breathing has been shown to help significantly with alcohol craving. 

Yoga and meditation can be strong components in the process of recovery. Yoga’s goal is to attain perfect harmony of body, mind and spirit. It strengthens and adds stamina to one’s body. In addition, yoga teaches people struggling with addiction to lean into uncomfortable situations instead of resisting them. Yoga and meditation are both very effective in slowing the obsessive, compulsive mind that is common in addiction and early recovery. 

Guided imagery and positive affirmations are very powerful in helping achieve a paradigm shift in one’s thinking. This concept has been handed down through generations. We see it in our Twelve Step meetings through slogans and the Prayer of Serenity. It is very clear that where one’s thoughts go, energy flows. In other words, what you believe is what you manifest in your life. This includes depression, anxiety, and even corresponding coping methods such as addictions and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. 

As you consistently slow down your brain-wave activity by using effective mind-body methods, you also bring your brain chemistry and your life into balance. Not only do these methods help you feel peaceful and relaxed, they increase your energy, focus and stamina.

Blog written by George Joseph, LCDC
George Joseph is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor who began his career in 1983. George is the CEO of The Right Step,...