Mindfulness for Addiction Recovery: 7 Reasons It’s An Effective Treatment

mindfulness for addiction recovery

mindfulness for addiction recovery

You can use mindfulness in therapy for a variety of different types of issues. Mindfulness refers to being present with what’s happening in the moment. This is a foundational step towards improving your life through many different challenges. Many people don’t think about meditation or mindfulness for addiction recovery. However, it’s an increasingly critical component of treatment for both substance and behavioral addiction issues. Let’s take a look at 7 key reasons it’s such an effective treatment option.

What Is Mindfulness?

what is mindfulness

Mindfulness describes a state of being in the present moment. We release the regrets of the past and we take a break from our fears about the future. Life unfolds in the here and now and mindfulness helps us accept and understand this. As we work with mindfulness for addiction recovery, we become our fullest selves in the moment.

How Do We Attain Mindfulness?

The answers are limitless but common paths include:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation including guided meditation
  • Daily activities
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Spiritual practice

You might practice mindfulness techniques in therapy.

Mindfulness for Addiction Recovery

How can mindfulness help in addiction recovery? It begins with understanding that addiction is a chronic relapsing condition. 

Cravings are a big part of those relapses. Studies have found that a lack of mindfulness may increase cravings. On the other hand, attention to mindfulness for addiction can help reduce those cravings. It can assist you in noticing the cravings without attaching yourself to the need to satisfy them. This allows you to move through the cravings.

By learning to accept difficult challenges, individuals can avoid reaction patterns. As a result, mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have become a common approach for addiction recovery. But craving control is just one reason why mindfulness for addiction recovery works. Let’s explore all of this further.

7 Reasons Why Mindfulness for Addiction Recovery Is Effective

mindfulness for addiction recovery

There are many different reasons why mindfulness for addiction recovery works. It’s effective because it works well with other forms of therapy, helps you

1. Mindfulness Works Within Other Forms of Therapy

Mindfulness isn’t a therapeutic technique in and of itself. It’s a tool. Moreover, it’s a tool that works well with all different types of therapeutic approaches. Its versatility means that mindfulness works well for many different types of people. Therapy isn’t one size fits all. Neither is recovery. Mindfulness complements what else works for you.

Some forms of therapy that incorporate mindfulness well include:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

2. Mindfulness Decreases Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety and stress are common triggers for substance abuse and behavioral addiction relapse. Mindfulness is valuable here because it teaches us how to be more aware of challenging situations as we learn to observe more. Hence, we reduce the need for an immediate reaction.

In many studies, the practice of yoga has been shown to be helpful. Yoga can lead to better self-regulation and it can also help create a decrease in many symptoms of both anxiety and depression. However, that’s just one example of a somatic approach to mindfulness for addiction recovery.

3. Mindfulness Improves Focus, Awareness, and Attention

As mentioned above, it’s helpful to recognize your discomfort. When we are uncomfortable, we reach for things that make us feel better in the moment. However, that reaction leads us to make choices that aren’t what we want for our long-term health and wellness.

The key is to avoid the automatic reaction and the goal is to avoid any reaction at all. It’s to be present with the discomfort then make choices from a thoughtful place. Mindfulness practices have helped those in addiction recovery to avoid those reaction. 

With mindfulness, you can perceive patterns and identify triggers. You can rely on self-reflection. The default response to discomfort is no longer escape. Instead, it is awareness.

addiction recovery

4. Mindfulness Reduces Mood Swings

A big factor in addiction recovery is dealing with the mood/craving cycle. Negative moods creep in and they usually bring with them a desire or craving. Research shows a simple but powerful response, breathing, can help reduce mood swings and cravings.

Sudarshana Kriya Yoga, or SKY, is known for different types of seated breathing: victorious breath (slow and deep), bellows breath (forced inhalation and exhalation), and cyclical breathing (slow, medium, fast cycles). SKY was introduced to male prisoners diagnosed with substance abuse. After 6 weeks, they showed vast improvement in areas like anxiety reduction, feelings of positivity, and an improved overall function.

This is just another example of how mindfulness helps support us in many different ways that can also assist with addiction recovery.

5. Mindfulness for Craving Reduction

As aforementioned, numerous studies show that mindfulness training reduces cravings. Even better, it reduces cravings even in the presence of negative emotions. A fine example of this research focused on smokers. With mindfulness training, smokers learned to focus on images related to smoking. Brain imaging found that these smokers showed less craving-based brain activity than smokers who didn’t receive the same training. 

6. Mindfulness Teaches Self-Kindness

Addiction recovery can be blocked by self-blame. Mindfulness, on the other hand, encourages us to judge ourselves (and others) less. We learn to practice compassion and self-love. This helps our entire healing process.

7. Mindfulness Allows For Authentic Living in the Present Moment

Mindfulness brings us into the present moment. We experience that moment fully. This awareness helps us in addiction recovery. It also enriches our entire life. Addiction recovery isn’t just about stopping the substance use or behavior. It’s about finding / creating a fulfilling, authentic life.

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