Does Mindfulness Meditation Help With Addiction? [Tips]

In treating substance abuse and addiction, there are a variety of methods. For some, the standard treatments work well: detoxifying, going to therapy, meeting with support groups. However, recovery is not one size fits all. Everyone is different. For some, more holistic methods of treatment work better than the usual options. While it may seem odd, mindfulness and addiction recovery treatment go hand in hand and can produce lasting sobriety. Mindfulness treatments encompass a variety of exercises, one of them being meditation. As a part of addiction treatment, mindful meditation can help those in recovery make peace with themselves on their path to a sober life.

Sadly, addiction can be one of the most difficult things to recover from. However, there is help out there, and we can help guide you to the treatment that is right for you. Call us at 405-583-4390 to learn about all your options for recovery, including mindfulness meditation. Let us make this challenging journey a little easier for you.

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Keep reading on to learn more about the benefits of using meditation in mindfulness to help aid addiction.

Mindfulness 101: A Way of Being

Put simply, mindfulness is a state of mental awareness and focus. It comes from practices found in meditation. However, more recently, mindfulness has become associated with different types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a popular approach in substance abuse treatment. In this type of therapy, the goal is for a patient to be able to recognize negative behaviors and feelings. Once this is done, they can then create strategies to cope with them or overcome them, leading to better emotional regulation and mental health. Overall, mindfulness helps in this process because it helps a person understand themselves on a deeper level.

Understanding It

Truthfully, the best way to understand mindfulness is to try it out. A state of mindfulness means being aware of both external surroundings and your inner experience. Even as new things occur, you are present in the moment, without getting bogged down by thoughts or feelings. Ultimately, the aim of mindfulness is to become aware – on both the outside and inside – without being attached to anything you are experiencing.

This may sound simple enough, but it takes a fair amount of self-discipline. You must only focus on the present moment, not the past or future. If you are thinking about something that happened two weeks ago, for instance, you are no longer in a mindful state. Being present and in the moment, allowing thoughts or feelings about the past, which may pop up, to flow through you without sticking, is what mindfulness is all about. In practice, this can be quite difficult, especially for those new to meditation. To start practicing mindfulness, it may be helpful to focus on the idea of mindfulness. In time and with practice, true mindfulness will come.

Addiction and Mindfulness

At first glance, the idea of mindfulness may not seem like a suitable solution for addiction. But of all the treatments for substance abuse, meditation for addiction recovery is actually among the most effective.

One of the most basic ways mindfulness meditation helps someone feel better is by allowing them to simply slow things down. Mindfulness keeps you from jumping from one activity to the next, or even one thought to the next. In quieting your stream of consciousness, you can achieve a sort of tranquility, a balance.

Feelings like this – tranquility, peace, relaxation – are often those that people search for in using certain substances anyway. Calming the mind more naturally promotes better overall mental health, which is necessary for recovery. Typically, an addiction starts and progresses as a result of negative feelings or a negative state of mind.

Know Yourself

Another way mindfulness helps in recovery is by forcing you to analyze and understand your reactions to things. Although the goal of being mindful is to be present and let memories and anxieties flow through you, what does come to mind during mindful meditation can be important to understand.

Knowing yourself is vital in recovery. It is the first step toward being able to rebuild yourself as a new, sober individual. In acknowledging the thoughts and feelings that occur (or recur) in your mind, as well as your reactions to them, you become better equipped to deal with those feelings. Ultimately, you should learn to let them go, let them pass through you in an effort to stay present.

During mindful meditation in substance abuse treatment, people typically come to realizations not only about themselves but about what triggers them to drink, use drugs, or engage in any other addictive behavior. These realizations go a long way toward helping a person learn to resist temptation, manage cravings, and stay on the path of sobriety. Contact our trained experts today to get more information. It is never too late to start recieving help.

Mindfulness and Addiction Treatments

With mindful meditation and substance abuse, there are a number of treatments and methods one can benefit from. These are typically referred to as mindful-based interventions or MBIs for short. The most common MBIs are as follows:

  • Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE): MORE combines mindfulness practices with cognitive-behavioral therapy and positive psychology, typically done in 10 sessions.
  • Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP): MBRP is an 8-session program that mixes traditional relapse prevention strategies with mindfulness training. It emphasizes the need to learn coping mechanisms to deal with discomfort and triggers.
  • Mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy (MABT): MABT is an 8-week program composed of eight 90-minute sessions. These sessions focus on heightening awareness of the relationship between the physical and the emotional and using this knowledge to help regulate emotions.
  • Mindfulness-based addiction treatment (MBAT): While each of these programs is designed for use in addiction treatment, MBAT is specifically used to treat nicotine addiction over 10 sessions using mindfulness practices.

While there are other treatments, these are some of the most common. Each one uses mindfulness techniques to help a person achieve lasting recovery. The skills you can learn from mindfulness and mindfulness programs include:

  • Observation: giving close attention to your environment.
  • Description: being able to more precisely describe an event or how one feels.
  • Participation: involving oneself in activities without fear or anxiety.
  • Acceptance: accepting things as they are, not judging for what they are not.
  • Focus: freeing yourself from distractions.
  • Effectiveness: being able to do what works without second-guessing yourself.

Each of these skills can be helpful not only in mindful recovery but in life in general, which is what makes mindfulness so beneficial.

The Effectiveness of Mindfulness in Recovery

Mindfulness as a form of treatment for substance abuse is relatively new. Moreover, the mindful approach to treatment is so different from standard practices that it was initially met with skepticism. However, that skepticism is now a thing of the past. Recent studies from the University of Southern California have shown the effectiveness of mindful practices in therapy.

In one study, researchers found that just eight weeks of mindfulness training led to drops in stress and cravings for people in recovery. It also improved the chances that the patient would stay sober for at least six months. This largely due to how mindfulness practices alter structures in the brain, specifically in the areas associated with self-awareness and coping with emotions. With changes like these, behaviors like mindfulness can eventually become second nature.

An Expert Opinion

Eric Garland, who serves as director of the Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development at the University of Utah, is a prominent supporter of mindfulness in substance abuse treatment. Garland explains that mindfulness-based addiction treatment essentially trains individuals to pause and be present, to acknowledge cravings without reacting, and ultimately to restructure natural reward pathways in the brain.

“What I think therapeutically happens is, in order to recover from addiction, a person has to relearn what is and is not important in life,” Garland explains. “Because that’s the thing that gets broken in addiction – the person gives up the things that once were meaningful in their life for the drug.” But in teaching mindfulness, Garland further explains that those with an addiction can “strengthen their self-control and their self-awareness so that then they can become more sensitive to natural pleasure to cultivate a sense of joy and to reclaim a sense of meaning in life.”

Start your journey to recovery. Contact us today and our professionals will help you jump start your journey today.

Mindfulness Meditation: A Worthy Treatment

For anyone suffering from addiction, there are a variety of treatment options. Although mindfulness and mindfulness meditation may be new to substance abuse treatment, they are extremely effective. Mindfulness encourages a person to live in the moment, to recognize but not dwell on the thoughts or feelings that harm them. After all, a feeling is just that, a feeling. It does not last forever, and it does not define you.

Recovery is all about breaking down the causes of addictive behavior and rebuilding one’s life. What better way to do that than through mindfulness meditation? Mindfulness and addiction may seem like a strange combination, but it is a worthy treatment.

Though overcoming addiction can seem as intimidating as climbing Everest, sobriety is absolutely possible. All it takes is the right help! To find treatment or a treatment center that’s right for you, give us a call at 405-583-4390. Our addiction specialists would be more than happy to connect you to the resources you need.

Written by Richard Morris


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