Joy may be the true cure to drug addiction.

According to new research, mindfulness therapy, or, Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) increases the brains response to healthy rewards and decreases reward responses for opioid usage (“Cultivating joy”, 2019).

To test this, over 130 participants were studied who used opioids for chronic pain – these participants were part of a therapist group associated with MORE for eight weeks after having their brain function scanned at the beginning of the study (“Cultivating joy”, 2019).

Slowly, the brains response to opioids in the participants became less reactive and natural pleasures through mindfulness led to more positive responses.

“‘Previous research shows that prolonged use of opioids makes our brains more sensitive to pain and less receptive to the joy one might normally experience from natural rewards, like spending time with loved ones…this blunted ability to experience natural positive feelings leads to higher [usage of opioids]…scholars are increasingly referring to chronic pain and opioid misuse as ‘diseases of despair,’” (“Cultivating joy”, 2019).

After the eight week session, participants had their brains scanned again – it was reported they had enhanced feelings of joy, experienced less pain, and had greater psychological health, thus reducing the risk of opioid misuse and decreasing pain. MORE is all about amplifying the good things in life and teaches individuals to face adversity with more of a positive mindset (“Cultivating joy”, 2019).

It’s shown that up to 30 percent of adults in the US experience chronic pain, and with pain comes opioid usage – up to 63 percent of drug overdoses are from the use of opioids. Integrating a program like MORE into a larger environment may be the key to combating opioid addiction, all while making people’s lives better (“Cultivating joy”, 2019).

Reference: University of Utah. (2019, October 17). Cultivating joy through mindfulness: An antidote to opioid misuse, the disease of despair. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2019 from

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