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Mindfulness: An inexpensive and effortless way to reduce heavy drinking

Mindfulness: An inexpensive and effortless way to reduce heavy drinking

December 15 | By Rachael

With alcohol being the most commonly abused substance, the problem of drinking is only worsening due to a massive increase in underage drinking. Nearly 136.7 million Americans aged 12 or older have reported drinking alcohol in 2016, with nearly 65.3 million reporting of binge drinking and 16.3 million indulging in heavy drinking.

Frequent and heavy drinking takes a serious toll on not only the health of the user, but also pose grave challenges to the social fabric of family, community and society. Besides inflicting unintentional injuries due to falls, burns, motor vehicle crashes, etc., alcohol increases the risk of intentional injuries due to firearms, sexual assault, domestic violence, etc.

Since alcohol tends to change the behaviors of people by changing their brain chemistry, this leads to family and relationships problems. Moreover, excessive consumption of alcohol leads to alcohol poisoning that could turn fatal. Some of the major health problems arising due to the frequent heavy consumption of alcohol are high blood pressure, stroke and other heart-related diseases, liver disease, nerve damage, sexual problems, permanent damage to brain, etc. Moreover, alcoholism results in malnutrition, gastritis and ulcers.

Besides medications and other treatment procedures, one of the essential ways to overcome the problem of drinking is through experiential techniques like mindfulness. Besides averting negative and depressive thinking, many experts have emphasized upon the role of such techniques in combating the problem of drinking and substance abuse. Interestingly, researchers have highlighted the usefulness of 11-minute of mindfulness in reducing alcohol consumption among users indulging in heavy drinking.

A simple yet effective therapy to reduce alcohol consumption

A study conducted by a team of psychologists from the University College of London has proven that mindfulness techniques are not a fad and that just 11 minutes of mindfulness can reduce alcohol consumption. The findings of the study published in the journal International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology suggest that mindfulness about the current moment compared to relaxation techniques decreases the risk of drinking.

The researchers looked at different tools that could put a check on potentially harmful addictive behaviors, including drug and alcohol abuse. The technique of mindfulness essentially encourages people to focus intensely on thoughts, sounds and sensations to develop a heightened awareness of physical and innate emotions. By concentrating on carvings rather than suppressing such a feeling, users  become capable of treating them as temporary events. This therapy has been already being recommended for easing anxiety and depression by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). It is easy to learn and does not involve complex training methods.

The study included 68 users indulging in heavy drinking but not as large an amount to inflict alcohol use disorder (AUD). While one half of them underwent mindfulness training, the other half underwent relaxation techniques via 11-minute-long audio recordings. To remove any biased effects, the participants were not informed on the type of therapy they were receiving. They were allowed to go home after the training, with the condition that they were to apply the technique whenever they had the urge to drink.

The study found that those who used mindfulness techniques drank 9.3 fewer units of alcohol than the week before the experiment. On the contrary, those who used relaxation techniques did not report significant differences. Though the findings were impressive, they were small in scale. It presents an opportunity to employ a relatively low-effort, simple technique to break a habitual cycle with successful results.

Seek counseling for alcohol-related problems

Considering the growing menace of alcoholism and the long-term implications, the above findings can prove beneficial in addressing the root causes of drinking.  Compared to other treatment measures, mindfulness causes no side effects and easier to learn. Unlike yoga and other alternative practices, it does not require an instructor. By opting for mindfulness, one can effectively bring changes in his or her behavior.

If you or your loved one is fighting alcohol addiction, contact the Colorado Alcohol Addiction Help for guidance on the best facilities offering alcohol treatment in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-592-9261 or chat online with our counselors to know about some of the finest alcohol addiction treatment centers in Colorado.