People suffering from opioid addiction and chronic pain might have fewer cravings and less pain if they use both mindfulness techniques and medication for opioid dependence, a new study said.
Mindfulness is the meditative practice of focusing on the present moment and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, without judgement.
According to the researchers, for many of those with opioid addictions who experienced chronic pain, anxiety and depression, methadone maintenance and mindfulness-based, non-drug interventions were promising treatments.
“Methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) has been an effective form of medication treatment for opioid use disorder,” said Nina Cooperman, Associate Professor at Rutgers University in the US.
“However, nearly half of individuals on MMT continue to use opioids during treatment or relapse with six months,” Cooperman said.
The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, examined the effects of mindfulness and methadone therapy on 30 patients with opioid addiction and chronic pain.
The findings showed that those who received methadone and a mindfulness training-based intervention were 1.3 times better at controlling their cravings and had significantly greater improvements in pain, stress and positive emotions, even though they were aware of more cravings than those who only received standard methadone treatment and counselling.
The researchers said that mindfulness-based interventions could help people dependent on opioids increase their self-awareness and self-control over cravings and be less reactive to emotional and physical pain.
Individuals with an opioid addiction could also be taught to change their negative thoughts and savour pleasant events, which might help them to regulate their emotions.