Many treatment programs are beginning to offer a more eclectic range of therapy modalities. While it is critical to treat and heal the physical body in addiction recovery, it is just as important to treat the mind and spirit as well. One such technique is mindfulness training. Many people in early recovery, or undergoing their first stay in treatment, may discount this method, or wonder how it could possibly help them to stay sober. Hopefully we can help clarify this for you.
So, what exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness was originally derived from Buddhist meditation practices. Psychology Today defines mindfulness as “a state of active, open attention on the present.” When one is engaged in the regular practice of mindfulness, they are able to focus on “the here and now”, rather than dwelling on past regrets or future anxieties. The practicer learns to calmly observe passing feelings and thoughts, accept them, and let them go, without self-judgment.
And you’re telling me that mindfulness can help in my recovery?
When practiced correctly and with the proper intention, absolutely! The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) states that, “It is most often the mind’s interpretation of a stressful life event, not the event itself, that creates the urgent need to get instant relief and leads to substance use or other unwanted behaviors. Mindfulness practices provide a break from stress, teach the client to listen to his/her mind, body, and emotions, and improve the self-acceptance that leads to greater hope and self-efficacy.” Further, a 2009 study by Marcus and Zgierska specifically examined mindfulness-based therapy modalities for people with substance use disorders. First, they note the proven influence of stress in substance use and relapse susceptibility. They review several studies and meta-analyses that show that mindfulness-based therapy for substance abuse is associated with the following benefits:
- Greater decreases in craving
- Greater increases in acceptance/awareness
- Greater reductions in stress, negative affect, and depression
- Greater increases in positive affect
- Improved sleep patterns
Although mindfulness likely wouldn’t be effective as a standalone treatment for people suffering with substance use disorders, the available evidence suggests that it can certainly be useful in improving several measures that influence likelihood for relapse. When used in combination with counseling and other therapy modalities, it is a very effective tool for recovery. By teaching you to focus on “the now”, it can help to increase inner peace and reduce stress-related relapse risk.
Mindfulness training is just one of the many holistic treatment modalities offered by Serenity Acres Treatment Center. For more information, contact the admissions team at Serenity Acres today.
- Marcus, M. T., & Zgierska, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based therapies for substance use disorders: Part 1.
- Zgierska, A., & Marcus, M. T. (2010). Mindfulness-based therapies for substance use disorders: part 2.