Mindfulness is a term that frequently comes up in association with addiction recovery, but what does it mean? Simply described, mindfulness is a state that involves keen mental awareness and focus.
While traditionally mindfulness is associated with meditation, it has recently been featured in association with cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatments designed to help people manage their addiction and prevent relapse.
There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness such as stress reduction and improved performance in any number of pursuits ranging from work and school to the achievement of personal goals.
For people recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, cultivating mindfulness can impact their condition in many positive ways that we’ll explore here.
How Does Mindfulness Support Addiction Recovery?
Someone who has been through a medical detox and is struggling to manage their emotions to use drugs or alcohol may realistically be wondering how better mental awareness can increase their likelihood of recovery success.
Yet, after learning about mindfulness and practicing its techniques, addiction sufferers do gain greater command over their recovery journey and may struggle less to keep their ongoing recovery process on track.
To understand the therapeutic aspects of mindfulness in addiction treatment is to first consider the nature of substance addiction.
A person who is addicted to any type of substance whether a prescription drug, illicit drug, or alcohol, becomes dependent on the substance in question physically and psychologically.
Even after the physical dependence is severed with detox, the individual will still experience powerful compulsions to use the drug. Substance addiction is governed by these compulsions that compel the person to continue abusing the addictive substance even though they understand the negative consequences associated with that abuse.
Practicing mindfulness during recovery is, in fact, practicing an effective strategy for keeping relapse at bay.
We help people with addictions and substance use disorders recover. Get mindfulness training and learn the 12 Steps for deeper healing.
What Techniques Are Used to Practice Mindfulness?
Renewal Lodge is an exclusive Mindfulness In Recovery training facility. John Bruna, who is the founder of Mindfulness in Recovery, a former monk and someone who has been sober since 1984, helps teach our clients the Mindfulness in Recovery curriculum.
Our entire clinical team is also trained in mindfulness. Learn how we use the 12-Steps, MIR training and implement mindfulness in our treatment plans for deeper healing.
Rather than remaining in the background, we move it to the foreground of our thoughts and actions.
Mindfulness Supports Relapse Prevention
The relapse rate associated with many types of addiction is quite high. In fact, people associated with methamphetamine addiction are associated with a relapse rate of more than 90%.
Similarly, relapse rates involving alcohol, heroin, and many other addictive substances are also high. Perhaps this should be surprising as addiction is a chronic relapsing condition. A relapse isn’t an indicator of treatment failure; it simply suggests that more treatment is needed.
Nevertheless, individuals must prioritize relapse prevention in order to avoid becoming one of those relapse statistics. Mindfulness can help them keep their recovery on track while minimizing the risks for relapse. When people recovering from addiction practice mindfulness, they will experience improved focus on:
- Their “automatic pilot” thought patterns and behaviors
- Keen awareness of cravings to use
- Keen awareness of their individual emotions (i.e. anger, fear, or chronic stress)
- Awareness of high-risk situations (i.e. meeting with friends who use alcohol or drugs)
- Acceptance of current situations
- Striving to behave skillfully in difficult situations
- Improved self-care
- Relying on healthy forms of support (i.e. peer support groups) to improve mindfulness and relapse prevention techniques.
As individuals cultivate their mindfulness while working with a therapist and a peer group, they may also explore individual ways to practice mindfulness.
For instance, many people recovering from addiction find that yoga and its mindfulness focus is an extremely beneficial activity. Others may take part in other types of physical fitness such as running or swimming.
On the other hand, many activities can support mindful behaviors; these might include knitting, gardening, reading, listening to music, walking the dog, painting, etc…
If you are recovering or attempting to recover from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, visiting a rehab where mindfulness is a major program focus may be the key to your successful addiction management.
Renewal Lodge by Burning Tree features a strong recovery focus on mindfulness. They pair mindfulness techniques with many evidence-based therapies in order to help each client effectively manage their emotions and achieve lasting recovery. Contact us to learn more about how they can help you manage your addiction too.