Meditation vs. Medication
Meditation vs. Medication
I recently attended a presentation on the heroin and opioid crisis in our community. I was appalled to learn that we, as a country use 80% of worldwide prescriptions even though we don’t have 80% of the population; that the total number of drug and alcohol related intoxication deaths is rising fast; and that as a country we are experiencing a $700 billion a year expenditure in increased healthcare costs, crime and lost productivity. And the most sad piece of this crisis for me is that a family that I have known very closely for over 20 years lost their oldest daughter to drug overdose this summer, a beautiful and intelligent woman in her thirties has left her parents, siblings and children heartbroken.
Every crisis presents us with an opportunity, and each one of us can do something to help each other, our community and our country. When I was a counselor at a local university I learned about guided imagery and hypnosis to help people deal more effectively with pain, anxiety, fears and suffering. One day after a session of hypnosis a student said to me: “this is better than smoking pot, I feel calm and my mind is clear.” I was pleasantly surprised with that comment and hypnosis and guided imagery has become a regular practice in the work I do. People become addicted to alcohol and/or drugs because they are trying to numb a pain. That pain has many faces and shapes sometimes is a physical pain, and it can also show up as an emotional pain. People take pills, alcohol or illegal drugs to eliminate the pain; they are not looking to become addicted. They don’t realize that choosing those options will only bring them more pain. The solutions and the answers to the crisis we are facing are in front of us, and it comes in many forms.
In the book The Mindfulness Solution to pain Dr. Garner & Lucie Costin share: “It’s intriguing that ‘medication,’ as a word, is so similar to the word ‘meditation.’ Perhaps the ‘c’ is for chemical and the ‘t’ is for thought. Which one would you rather use to get better, if you were given the choice and training?” Research is showing more and more that the practice of mindfulness and meditation is helping with the relief of pain, physical and emotional. It also helps develop insight into what is the root cause of the problem and often the guidance on how to solve it is right behind it. Unfortunately, this approach is not being broadcasted on prime time TV because nobody makes money with it, and the second challenge is that it takes time, and it requires effort for the benefits to be seen. However, I am hopeful because this mindfulness approach to wellness is growing, and it is beginning to reach our community in baby steps.
Perhaps the struggles we are currently experiencing due to drugs and alcohol in our society is pushing us to look into radical approaches to wellbeing. And this can start with young children, so they can build the resilience and coping skills to master life challenges in a more powerful way than it has ever been available before.
Mindfulness for children, teens, and adults needs to be the “thing to do” in modern times to help us overcome the current challenges and the ones to come.