Addiction Recovery and the Relaxation Response
In the last few decades several traditional mind-body techniques have been studied in relation to addiction recovery. Studies using mindfulness meditation, Transcendental Meditation or yoga have been the most popular. A strong case could be made that the Relaxation Response is activated during all of these traditional techniques.
It is interesting then that most studies about addiction recovery have not directly used the open techniques of the Simple Technique or the Benson-Henry Technique. Possibly one reason that open techniques have not been used in more studies about addiction recovery may be a lack of awareness. Another reason may be that there are more people who practice and advocate for traditional techniques. In other words, the traditional techniques have a larger support system. We try to make the case below for more people to try the open techniques for addiction recovery, both personally and in scientific studies.
Advantages of Using Open Techniques for Addiction Recovery
Many scientific studies have shown that increased personal stress is related to more shifts toward addiction. The Relaxation Response has been shown scientifically to counter the stress response. Therefore, it is logical to use and study the open techniques in the same way that the other mind-body techniques have been used and studied.
Furthermore, the open techniques can be refined through experience more easily than traditional techniques. Traditional techniques are often linked to belief systems and cultures. This often leads to more constraints in changing a traditional technique practice. However, open techniques are focused more on what will work in reducing stress and improving health. As regards addiction recovery, open techniques can be modified as needed using an evidence based approach. Success in addiction recovery can be fairly direct to study also. Whether someone stops their addiction is usually the measure of success.
It has also been shown that 12 step programs are better overall than therapy for addiction recovery. One of the main concepts of 12 step programs is finding a "higher power", or "God as we understand God". Different traditions usually have their own concept of this higher power. Therefore, if someone in a 12 step program has a different concept of a higher power than what is supported by one of the traditions, then there could be some discomfort during recovery. The person using the 12 step program may not be able to take advantage of the traditional practice because of this discomfort. As a result, the person using the 12 step program may not experience the healing power of the Relaxation Response.
This is where use of the open techniques can be very helpful. The findings about the Relaxation Response are based on science. The open techniques make no assumption about someone's higher power. This should make the use of the open techniques more comfortable for more people working a 12 step program. This would suggest that the open techniques could be more effective overall for addiction recovery than other traditional techniques, at least for 12 step programs. Since the 12 step program is the most widely used program for addiction recovery, this should be a strong case for the use and study of open techniques for addiction recovery.