Stress, Addiction & Building Personal Resiliency

Addictive actions are one way how to relieve stress and anxiety, but the price is high—too high.

high price
Prisoner of addiction

Researchers such as Nick E. Goeders of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the LSU Health Sciences Center, confirm what may seem obvious to many. Stress stimulates centers in the brain that stimulate the use of addictive substances. In other words, stress triggers the urge to use (alcohol, drugs, TV, internet, food, sex etcetera) in people prone to addictive behaviors.

In Goeders’ research article, “The impact of stress on addiction,” he concludes that “exposure to stress increases the vulnerability for addiction.” Makes sense, and science is gathering evidence, but most of us know that when you have a stressful day,  you want to come home and unwind–sometimes with a glass of wine. It may become a fine line between enjoyment and addiction, while for others the problem  becomes more obvious.

Stress triggers the “fight or flight” response and activates of our sympathetic portion of our autonomic nervous system(ANS). Substances or activities that self-sooth counteract the unconscious response and calm us down, the parasympathetic “rest and digest” branch responds and calms things down.

On the surface, this may seem all fine and good until we consider the negative consequences of our choices, be it mounting debt by the shopaholic or more life threatening effects of drug abuse. Not to mention the damage we’re doing to our minds and bodies.

We are all on the same addiction spectrum to one degree or another. If it’s not a substance you’re addicted to it may be an unconscious tendency for the need for approval, advancement, and a list of other emotional needs.

Kundalini yoga master, Yogi Bhajan, predicted that “Meditation will be used to alleviate all kinds of mental and physical afflictions, but it may take 500 years before science gets there.” Researchers call for continued investigations into how stress and the subsequent activation of the HPA axis (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal)  impact addiction (Goeders, 439), but you can demonstrate for yourself with your own body and mind with HRV feedback (demonstrated under Meditation to Heal Addictions).

Yogis have long understood the power of yoga and meditation to heal addictions.

According to yogic science, addiction causes problems in the area of the pineal gland, which in turn cause problems in the regulation of the pituitary  or master gland. The effects cascade into the mind-body causing imbalances throughout your system.

Try it for yourself and record your own results. High heart coherence means you’re in the zone of healing the nervous and glandular systems. Not only that, but you can reach a new “bliss point.”

Addiction recovery specialist and Kundalini yoga teacher, Tommy Rosen, writes that “I certainly have not given up getting high. I’ve had a massive overhaul in my methods of doing so” (Recovery 2.0, p 190). Rosen is talking about the power of Kundalini yoga and meditation to break the “frequency” of addiction brings him to new natural higher highs that surpass the artificially induced ones.

You get closer to your core in meditation, your true Self is rediscovered and you experience new found freedom.

Addicted people are typically sensitive souls who have either gotten off or have not yet found their authentic selves within. The preferred substance is a disappointing substitute for the enduring high that he or she seeks without knowing. Substances short circuit the process of expanding human consciousness, because there is no evolution in the process—just a loop back to a previous state.

Check out the Meditation for Addictions and measure your own HRV with the HeartMath® phone app. You are unique and you can experiment and find the optimal meditation that suits you best.

4 thoughts on “Stress, Addiction & Building Personal Resiliency”

  1. In the early 1990s, my wife and I moved to San Francisco. Through a happy coincidence, we lived near Green Gulch monastery in Marin County.

    In what I can only describe as both an ironic and tragic twist of fate, I discovered meditation and Zen, while my wife at the time discovered cocaine.

    I witnessed how she would use cocaine to cope with the stresses of her profession. You mentioned how drugs short circuit the process of expanding human consciousness. In watching me wife disintegrate into addiction I appeared as if she was resorting back to the mentality of a child.

    • Hello Gary, firstly my heart goes out to you for being subjected to the tragedy of addiction, in a life partner no less. I can emphasize, I have had addiction in close relationships as well.

      If it weren’t for my own daily practice of meditation, I would probably be in the same situation. I find that I have to really watch myself during times of stress, because I hold the tendency to self-medicate as well. Self-regulation, as you well know, is the key to managing the addictive tendency.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with a loved one’s stress and addiction dance.

  2. There was a time that I had to undergo mental health treatment and during my hospital stay I learned that more and more hospitals are integrating yoga because of how effective it is for both mental and physical well being. I also learned though too that individuals with addictions need somehow more social inclusion because without that, trying to battle an addiction can lead to failure.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience on addiction and stress recovery–can be two side of the same coin. I have personally found that a daily meditation practice, especially when done in the morning, sets the day for more successful outcomes.


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