The connection between mindfulness and addiction treatment lies within the standard relapse prevention program as a successful technique for reducing drug cravings. Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), which reduces the link between cravings and substance use, can be more effective than 12-step programs. The 2017 study in the National Institute of Health’s library shows how MBRP can reduce the risk and severity of relapse due to cravings. Mindfulness for addiction treatment encourages resilience should relapse occur.
The importance of mindfulness for addiction treatment to help prevent relapse is an essential component to avoid relapse. Relapse is dangerous, especially for those who have been sober for a long time because going back to using the same amount the user was accustomed to before treatment could result in overdose or death.
Mindfulness practice is a powerful technique that encourages emotional healing and can help to cope with adversity in the new sober lifestyle. This practice, in combination with meditation, can also be beneficial in treating anxiety and depression.
The Power of Mindfulness and Meditation
In a research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2014, meditation is beneficial for relieving anxiety, pain, and depression. Stress, anxiety, pain, and depression are often triggers that induce misuse, abuse, and substance use disorders as coping mechanisms. Mindfulness and meditation can help control the effects of stress on the mind and body. It is essential to know that while we can’t always control stressors, we can use mindfulness and meditation to minimize the effects on the mind and body.
Burke Lennihan, a registered nurse teaching meditation at Harvard University’s Center for Wellness, states medication can help lower blood pressure and induce creativity and intuition while establishing a better connection with the inner self. Meditation can work through the sympathetic nervous system to reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, and increase heart rate and breathing while controlling blood pressure in stressful situations. Mindfulness and meditation also have a spiritual effect for some. The best aspect of mindfulness and meditation is that the process is free, and no equipment is needed to participate.
Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders
Those with substance use disorders can also experience a mental health condition. In some cases, people with addiction begin to experience symptoms of mental health problems. Other situations occur where someone with a mental health condition develops a substance use disorder to cope with the symptoms of their condition.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1 in 4 adults with serious mental health problems also have a substance use disorder or dual diagnosis. Addiction and co-occurring disorders can occur because they have common underlying causes, such as brain composition, genetics, and exposure to stress or trauma.
The following mental health problems occur more frequently with substance abuse:
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
Effects of Mindfulness on Stress and Depression
John Hopkins Medicine shares that health experts are beginning to recognize the strength of the connection between mind and body. Their definition of mindfulness meditation is the practice of nonjudgmental present-moment self-awareness to help improve mood and anxiety.
Relaxation and well-being are achievable by focusing on the present moment and not on past problems or “what if” thinking that focuses on the future. The practice of mindfulness meditation is beneficial for those with anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep issues.
Depression often stems from trauma or matters from the past. Preoccupation with negative situations and memories can bog down thoughts and cause physical and mental symptoms to occur. Mindfulness and meditation are not only beneficial but are often as effective as antidepressants. Thus, mindfulness for addiction treatment is beneficial for those also experiencing depression.
Mindfulness for Anxiety
Anxiety involves the possibility of future situations that might happen, which causes extreme distress. Fear, anxiety, and despair can consume someone with an anxiety disorder. Mindfulness puts a person in the present moment to calm and relieve anxiety. Putting those conditional thoughts to rest and focusing on the here and now lessens the worry.
General Techniques and Practices
Mindfulness and meditation are beneficial for those with substance use disorders, unhealthy relationships, or destructive behaviors. The brain is reshaped through mindfulness and meditation to gain control, awareness, and happiness. Like a muscle, the brain is the only organ that gains strength through exercise. Furthermore, meditation and mindfulness empower people to reshape the brain intentionally.
- Be in the present moment: Focusing on the present moment, not the future, not the past, but opening eyes to realize the reality of now. Feel your body in the present moment, the taste of the food, the place you are sitting, but nothing but the present moment.
- Focus on breathing: In stressful times when there is no control over anything, control breathing. Concentrate only on slow, relaxing breathing to restore a sensation of calm.
- Recognizing thoughts are just thoughts: Thoughts are the force behind feelings and actions. Confusing thoughts with reality can lead to false assumptions, misconceptions, and unfounded beliefs. Awareness of the truth of thoughts lets us let go of harmful ideas and eliminates negative self-talk.
- Expand your circle of compassion: When we disconnect, we suffer, and when we connect with others, we thrive. Mindfulness builds connections to let go of judgments, stereotypes, and prejudices and practice kindness and empathy. Compassionate views strengthen the ability to create healthy, healing relationships to touch inner emotions positively.
- Practice being still: in stillness, We can discover personal truths, giving meaning to life. In stillness, we find wisdom, opening hearts and minds to our vast potential.
Mindfulness for Addiction Recovery
Mindfulness for addiction treatment interrupts the addiction cycle. Practicing mindfulness and remaining in the present moment can reduce obsessive thoughts. Addiction treatment involves building positive coping mechanisms and gaining self-control to overcome triggers, cravings, and repetitive negative thoughts. Mindfulness and meditation are essential tools for regaining a sense of well-being and self-awareness.
Develop Mindfulness to Build Resilience for Relapse Prevention in California
Addiction treatment offers many tools to aid in the treatment of a substance use disorder. Sierra Health and Wellness Center in California reinforces recovery through mindfulness and meditation tools, also building resilience for relapse prevention. Mindfulness and meditation are beneficial for the treatment of mental health conditions as well.
Contact Sierra Health and Wellness Center to receive more information on therapy options.