This discovery was made by the associate professor at the University of Utah College of Social Work, Eric L. Garland, in a study published in The Journal of Behavioral Medicine. There, he studied how Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) affected patients who were addicted to prescription drugs.
By receiving guidance in strengthening positive emotions through implementing mindfulness-oriented techniques, patients experienced more powerful positive emotions while experiencing less craving. They also reported a sense of reward and meaning through MORE.
By combining information found in research on addiction, cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindfulness, patients learn to refocus their attention on the satisfaction of life rather than that of drugs, over the course of eight weeks.
Natural Pleasure Increase
For example, as a part of the program patients were asked to concentrate on their senses, to focus on the colors, textures, and scents of flowers to renew the amount of joy taken from the experience.
It was shown that patients who went through MORE’s brains were more pleased by natural pleasures.
Garland says, “These findings are scientifically important because one of the major theories about how and why addiction occurs asserts that over time drug abusers become dulled to the experience of joy in everyday life, and this pushes them to use higher and higher doses of drugs to feel happiness.”
Garland continues, “This study suggests that this process can be reversed. We can teach people to use mindfulness to appreciate and enjoy life more, and by doing that, they may feel less of a need for addictive drugs. It’s a powerful finding.”
Building on earlier work published in The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in February, compared to a separate group of chronic pain patients, the MORE intervention process was proven to lower the misuse of opioids.