The Importance of Mindfulness in Addiction Therapy

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One of the new catch phrases they we often hear in casual conversation and social media is that the struggle is real. This can apply to the day to day pressures we feel such as company deadlines, family stresses and meeting academic expectations. This saying is also very appropriate when put into context of drug and alcohol addiction. What started off as experimentation or as an outlet to cope with daily stresses eventually grew into abuse, dependence, then full-blown addiction. When an addict finally realizes how their substance abuse has affected their lives and those who love them the most, they seek the professional help and support that is provided by a drug treatment center.

The Biggest Key to Sobriety Lies Within


While in a drug treatment program, clients will undergo and intensive and structured treatment program that includes therapy, life and coping skill training, holistic-based treatment services and aftercare programs like sober living. These programs can be instrumental in helping addicts address the underlying roots of their addiction. While these programs are an essential part of the recovery process, the real key to long-term recovery is something that cannot be taught in a treatment session or put in a book. This key to lifelong freedom from addiction is mindfulness. The concept of mindfulness may sound very mystical, but it is something those new in recovery must come to understand if they are going to succeed in their recovery.

What Exactly is Mindfulness?

In its’ most simple definition, mindfulness is a state in which a person pays active and open attention to what is happening in the present moment. When someone is actively mindful, they are fully aware of their thoughts and feelings and are able to accept them for what they are without judging them as being good or bad. Mindfulness means living in the moment and being open to the experiences of the here and now. It may sound easy enough, but finding the energy to focus on what is happening right now is very difficult for most people–especially in our fast paced world.

Think about how you live your daily life. How many times have you ever started eating a meal or a snack, taken a couple of bites and then came to the realization that all you had left was an empty plate or packet? How many time had you driven somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realize that you remember little or nothing about your journey? That happens a lot in our day-to-day lives; we get into a routine and go from task to task and our focus isn’t on the little things that make up our day. That is mindlessness and not mindfulness, and when it comes to our recovery being mindless will lead to relapse.

The Importance of Mindfulness in Substance Addiction Therapy

When those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol go to treatment, they come into treatment after years of being mindless in the ritual of drug and alcohol use. They put in many hours in therapy and other treatment programming coming face to face with their addiction and working through those barriers to overcome their various substance abuse issues. One of the most common things they hear in treatment is that addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful and that is can surface in a number of ways–even if someone works a solid program of recovery.

Because of the complex nature of addiction and the subtle ways triggers of someone’s environment can bring cravings and thoughts of use to the forefront, being mindful is the best weapon a newly recovering person has in their arsenal. When someone relapses, it isn’t a sudden event that appears out the blue. Like addiction, relapse happens gradually and there are definite emotional and psychological signs that indicate that a relapse can happen down the road. If those new to recovery aren’t being aware in the present and mindful of those feelings and emotions that can keep them stuck in their recovery, they will not see their relapse coming–and if they do relapse, they feel  a deep sense of guilt and shame they allowed themselves to slip.

What are Ways to Develop Mindfulness in Addiction Treatment and Recovery?

During drug treatment, experienced therapists can help clients develop mindfulness so they can become more aware and proactive individuals once they leave rehab and reenter their normal lives. One of the main ways those new in recovery can develop mindfulness is through the practice of mindful meditation. This technique is a staple of life and coping skills training, and the techniques that are taught are easy to master and can be done anywhere. Mindful meditation can be as simple as learning breath-focusing techniques, or it can involve deeper practice through one of the formal meditation philosophies and schools. No matter what technique or techniques are utilized, mindful meditation can be practiced in as little as 10-15 minutes daily.

Another intervention that has proven beneficial in cultivating mindfulness is Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP). MBRP is designed as an aftercare program integrating mindfulness practices and principles with cognitive-behavioral relapse prevention. The main goals of MBRP is the following:

  • Develop awareness of personal triggers and habitual reactions, and learn ways to create a pause in this seemingly automatic process.
  • Change our relationship to discomfort, learning to recognize challenging emotional and physical experiences and responding to them in skillful ways.
  • Foster a nonjudgmental, compassionate approach toward ourselves and our experiences.

The hallmark of a quality drug and alcohol rehabilitation program goes beyond therapy and other treatment services. The best programs help clients develop an awareness about themselves and the environment they live in. If you or a loved one desire to break the vicious cycle of addiction and become more fully realized beings, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center features the programs, expert staff and attention to the individual that will give you the tools you need to succeed in recovery and to become a new person. Call us today!

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