Opioid addiction and overdose has been a growing epidemic, not only in the US, but around the world. It’s estimated that between 26.4 and 23 million people worldwide have an opioid abuse problem. For the many of these people the problem isn’t that they’re using the drugs to get high—often times they begin using these medications to relieve chronic pain, but as their tolerance grows, they become addicted.
Approximately 1.5 billion people around the glob suffer from some form of chronic pain, and the problem is that is no effective non-prescription treatment for pain…. Or is there?
It’s possible that mindful meditation could play a big role is treating chronic pain and cutting down on the number of opioid-related deaths.
In a study conducted just this year, chronic lower back pain sufferers were split into 3 groups: those who attended eight weeks of mindfulness based stress reduction, or eight weeks of cognitive based therapy (CBT), and the control group who continued to receive “usual care.” Those who received MBSR and CBT reportedly had pain improvement of 44% and 45% respectively, while those who continued usual treatment reported only a 27% reduction in pain.
Fadel Zeidan has research the reason that meditation has such an effect on pain using MRI. He found that 2 of the many areas that are effected in the brain during meditation are the orbitofrontal cortex, which oversees how we put into perspective what’s going on around us, and the anterior cingulate cortex, which helps us regulates emotions.
Meditation allows us to change our perspective of the pain we’re experiencing and helps us to control the emotions we’re feeling relative to the pain. One subject stated, “I felt the pain was there, but I was bale to let it go. I didn’t dwell on it so much.”
It’s not clear weather mindfulness and meditation can help all chronic pain sufferers, and more research will need to be conducted. At this point meditation is looking to be a promising way to treat, or at least aid in treatment of, chronic pain.
If you have trouble managing your pain, try practicing mindful meditation, you might be surprised with the effects. Give these 3 short meditation techniques a shot.