Addiction, TM and Tim Bennett’s Story
The use of transcendental meditation for the recovery of addiction is well documented and researched (see below). Recovered addicts tend to be strong advocates for the benefits they have found from practising TM. After finding something that has helped them through the most challenging situation of their life, it leaves a significant impact and the tendency is to share that experience with a view to help others who are suffering.
TM Abassador Russell Brand
High profile celebrity Russell Brand has become a forthright ambassador for practising TM, after turning to meditation to help with his sex, crack and heroin addictions. He works alongside David Lynch to raise awareness of the many benefits meditation brings.
Tim Burgess of the Charlatans also turned to transcendental meditation to help with his own addictions, most particularly cocaine. He attributes his renewed creative energy for producing new music and albums down to the rejuvenating powers he has found from regular meditation:
“It’s kind of revitalised me. It’s definitely had an effect on my day-to-day enthusiasm for things. It just gives you consistency more than anything, consistency and like… maybe a fire.” Tim Burgess
Following an invitation we sent out to our meditators asking them to share their experiences, we received an inspiring story from Tim Bennett. Tim had suffered from addiction and found huge relief and well being through his discovery of TM through The Trust. This inspired Tim to write a novel based on his own experiences. The following is Tim’s real-life story of recovery in his own words:
Tim Bennett’s Story of Recovery
I’m 45 and employed as a senior social worker for children with disabilities. It’s a job I’ve been doing for over 12 years.
In 2007, I was living a lifestyle which was killing me. The counsellors identified alcohol as my main ‘drug of choice’, but I was also using marijuana and cocaine, as well as some prescription drugs like anti-depressants and beta blockers which the doctor prescribed to help me get through anxiety and very low moods. I wouldn’t say I was addicted to the latter, but it added to my nervous system’s confusion. I had lost four stone in weight and knew my body was about to die which, at the time, was fine by me.
“When I left the UK, I thought I’d only need five weeks to get better. But soon after I started treatment I realised there was a lot of work to be done to heal and find myself, as really I had lost all sense of personal identity and who I was. I told my manager what was going on – that I was addicted to drugs and alcohol (I’d been signed off sick for depression) – and I was prepared to say goodbye to social work but he said “just get better – your job’s here when you’re ready to come back.”
From that point I guess you could say I surrendered. I listened to the counsellors, many of whom had recovered themselves, and put everything I had into the treatment programme. One month of primary clinic, two months of secondary treatment in a therapeutic community and a month of step-down treatment to prepare me for my return home. All of the rehabs were in the foothills of, and suburbs under Table Mountain, a place I now call my spiritual home.
When I came home I finalised divorce proceedings which started while I was in rehab and severed many unhealthy friendships. It was challenging, and at times very lonely, but after listening to a talk on TM by Colin Beckley, I found something beautiful and magical to fill the time I used to use for drinking. The effects on my wellbeing from practising TM were immediate. I had found a technique, which gave me what I’d been searching for with narcotics: a natural high.
Slowly I began to reconnect with life on a new, clean level. I really wasn’t prepared for the power of the spiritual awakening TM has triggered. I haven’t missed a day’s meditation for seven years. TM works with a cumulative effect: the more I do it, the happier I become and the less stress affects me. It helped me like who I was and realise that recovering from the rock bottom I found myself at, took strength and character previously imitated by drugs and alcohol.
My relationships with people became more loving and I found self-love and true happiness, at times crying, overcome with love. My life is unfolding in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. My creativity and intuition are expanding and I now have a connection with nature which quite literally, blows my mind.
Returning to work was a huge challenge; one I nearly failed at. Everything felt new. My concentration was still shattered. I couldn’t even read, let alone write a book. But slowly TM helped me grow into my new skin. I became a son to my parents and brother to my siblings.
I was able to express myself in an open, loving way for the first time. A few years ago I met my soul mate. We got engaged a month after meeting and married within six months. Our baby daughter Blossom is nearly two-years-old; our second baby is due this autumn.”
Research on Transcendental Meditation and Addiction
There have been many studies and reviews into the benefits TM offers to mental health issues and substance abuse, such as cigarettes, alcohol and non-prescribed drugs.
(e.g. Clements G, 1988; Haratani T & Henmi T, 1990; Hawkins, 2003; Jayadevappa R et al. 2007; Shafii M et al. 1974, 1975; Taub E et al. 1994; Walton KG, Levitsky, 1994).
A review found that the TM program produced highly significant and sustained reductions in smoking, alcohol consumption and drug use. Over an 18 to 24-month period, abstinence ranged from 51% to 89% for people practicing TM, compared to 21% for good conventional substance abuse programs.
In contrast to high early relapse rates with standard programs, TM programmes produced reductions in smoking and alcohol consumption which increased gradually over time, whilst initial marked reductions in illicit drug use were sustained (Alexander CN et al. 1994).
“It stands to reason… that as meditators feel less stressed, anxious, angry or depressed, they are less likely to resort to addictive substances or behaviours in order to feel better.” Rosenthal, 2011
In a study of 115 young people in Germany (Geisler,1978) using multiple illicit drugs, 45% of the TM group had stopped taking any drugs (after one year), compared with 15% in a control group. After 18 months, the quit rate for the meditators had risen again to 89%.
Overall, research in this area indicates that the longer individuals practice TM, the more likely it is that they will stop or markedly reduce smoking, alcohol consumption, or drug abuse (Alexander CN et al. 1994; Gelderloos et al. 1991). These are significant findings.
“I have to say that the potential clinical power of this technique is amazing. It offers the promise to transform the lives of millions who suffer… If Transcendental Meditation were a drug, conferring so many benefits with few, if any, side effects, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster” Rosenthal, 2011