One approach for addiction recovery is to use techniques that bring about the relaxation response in our nervous system. The relaxation response is the inverse of the well known fight or flight response. The relaxation response is brought about by what has been called the rest and digest part of our nervous system.

Spiritual Traditions and the Relaxation Response

There are many spiritual and religious traditions throughout human history that have utilized the relaxation response. These include Yoga as well as meditation in different forms in the Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, Jewish, and Moslem traditions. The third step of the 12 step program is clear about finding a Higher Power of our own understanding. Any of these traditions could provide a well documented Higher Power for someone in recovery. Alternatively, anyone can benefit from regularly bringing about the relaxation response apart from any tradition. This can be done by using one of the Open Protocols, as described below.

Advantages of Open Protocols

Apart from spiritual traditions, there are also open protocols or techniques for bringing about the relaxation response. These open protocols have been investigated by scientists and medical doctors for the last 50 years. The open protocols are simple, easy to do, and free and are independent of any tradition or belief system. For those who are not sure about their Higher Power or who are not comfortable with the way that meditation is practiced in their own tradition, the open protocols provide a proven approach for bringing about the relaxation response.

According to many scientific studies, regularly bringing about the relaxation response can often help in the recovery process and for many other health issues as well. Changes from bringing about the relaxation response are usually a gradual process, however. The initial practice of bringing about the relaxation response does not usually take away the cravings for the addictive agent immediately. Recovery from addiction is usually most effective with a consistent practice of bringing about the relaxation response along with using other recovery tools like 12 step meetings and working the steps.

The two open protocols that we document are the simple protocol and the Benson-Henry protocol. We adapt the Benson-Henry protocol specifically for use with addiction recovery. Dr. Benson is the physician-scientist who coined the phrase "relaxation response" based on his extensive scientific studies. The Benson-Henry protocol is based on his research.