I have an addiction to alcohol. I have had a very turbulent past and have been drinking since I was 14. I am now 46 and alcohol is how I escape or deal with my fears. I have been meditating for quite some time, and when I feel the urge to drink, I know I should meditate, but I am finding at times that I am weak. I want my intentions to be stronger and the cravings to stop. I have attempted AA meetings and find them very negative – they make me feel very powerless. I know I have the power to conquer fear and this addiction that I’ve had for 33 years. Is meditation enough? I want my life back and am making a commitment to do so. Am I being impatient or can you suggest something more?
Everyone is addicted to something. The challenge is to choose an addiction with positive side effects. You learned in your childhood that alcohol gave you temporary relief, and you resort to it as the default way of managing your life. It’s my experience that while meditation is a core part of overcoming an addiction, it is not enough on its own. I suggest that you identify a professional addiction counselor or a treatment program in your community and make the commitment to address the challenge directly. Alcohol is almost always a poor substitute for love, so look honestly at your core relationships and see what you can do to enhance the flow of nourishment. After you have been alcohol-free for several weeks, I encourage you to come to The Chopra Center for one of our deeper mind-body detoxification and healing programs. There are four main steps to ending your addiction:
- Stop drinking.
- Identify the need that alcohol has been filling.
- Find a healthy substitute to nourish that inner need.
- Become part of a community that supports the expansion of your happiness and wellbeing.
At the root of addiction is a natural impulse to satisfy our human needs for security, comfort, self-esteem, sensory gratification, and power. But at a deeper level, we know that that our addictions cannot fill the emptiness inside ourselves and will not lead to lasting peace and inner satisfaction. Identifying the void you have been trying to fill and replacing life-damaging beliefs and behaviors with those that are life-supporting – including meditation and other practices for higher consciousness – will serve you immeasurably on your journey to healing and transformation. In addition to finding a professional counselor, you may benefit from using the program outlined in my book Freedom from Addiction. I also suggest listening to a recording of a teleconference The Chopra Center hosted on addiction a few months ago –you can find it in our online library here.