Can Meditating Help You Drink Less Alcohol?

Photo: Stocksy/Marija Kovac
Meditation has a pretty long list of reputed benefits, including everything from lowered stress levels to more effective (and mood-boosting) runs. But another added perk to getting Zen? It can help curb your craving for cocktails.

In fact, a mere 11 minutes of meditation can significantly lower your drinking habit, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. Researchers found that being more mindful can lead to people becoming more aware and intentional with their beverage intake, which in turn can lower the yearning to drink alcohol—which is major news for those looking to cut back. Even better news? The shift can happen in a relatively short amount of time (for those of you who are like Lena Dunham when it comes to meditation).

"By being more aware of their cravings, participants were able to bring intention back into the equation."

To study this, 68 adults with heavy drinking habits were divided into two groups. Half listened to an 11-minute long recording that taught mindfulness techniques involving a focus on your body's sensations. Cravings and other feelings were to be looked at as temporary and not requiring an act, according to the recording. The other group learned relaxation techniques that were designed to reduce the yearning to give in to cravings.

After a week of practice, the results were surprisingly different between the groups—those who were taught mindfulness drank 9.3 fewer units of alcohol (about the same as 3 pints of beer) than their previous week. The other group, which focused on relaxing? No significant change in consumption.

“By being more aware of their cravings, we think the study participants were able to bring intention back into the equation, instead of automatically reaching for the drink when they feel a craving," says lead author Sunjeev Kamboj, reader and deputy director at University College of London's psychopharmacology department. Makes perfect sense—one more drink is usually a bad idea, but one you often don't realize till the morning after (when your headache is shouting it at you).

Dry September anyone? Just a few weeks sans alcohol can give your health a boost, research shows. Instead, you can sip on this refreshing elixir that helps you become more outgoing—minus the booze.

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