There are many reasons why someone will start doing drugs or drinking too much alcohol. They may do it for social reasons, or as a way to look “cool” in front of their peers. But in many cases, people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to escape from painful emotions, physical or mental health symptoms, and trauma. Addiction for many people in recovery was a way for them to go somewhere else, both physically and emotionally.
It doesn’t matter what the addiction or attachment was to, such as shopping, gambling, drugs, or food. No matter what, the patient’s mind was focused on something other than the here and now. Addiction to any substance or activity takes over the person’s entire world. They are always thinking of ways to indulge, obtain, or recover from the effects of their addiction. During the height of a person’s addiction, little time or effort is spent on the present moment. Because of the way addiction takes over a person’s ability to be present in the moment, mindfulness and meditation therapies can help patients in recovery from addiction.
What are mindfulness and meditation therapies?
Mindfulness is the ability to be aware and present in the moment from a non-judgmental state. Therapies that focus on mindfulness and meditation give patients the tools to increase their ability to accept and tolerate the events, situations, and feelings of the present. Often, people are unable to endure what’s happening in the present, so they turn to substances or destructive actions as a form of distraction. Mindfulness therapy teaches patients how to tolerate and accept less-than-ideal situations without resorting to maladaptive, destructive behavior. It shows patients how to act mindfully, instead of reacting on autopilot by reaching for drugs, alcohol, gambling, or some other addictive substance or behavior.
How can mindfulness and meditation help a person in recovery?
Patients in mindfulness and meditation therapy can learn how to deal with discomfort in the present by balancing their emotional responses. This will help them reduce their stress levels, and anxiety they’d typically feel which triggers substance use and addictive behaviors.
Mindfulness therapy also teaches the patient how to be non-judgmental about their responses. The treatment does not invalidate their feelings or discomfort. Instead, it shows them that negative feelings to the present outlook aren’t inherently wrong or a condemnation of their character. And, these negative feelings can be tolerated with healthy behaviors and responses. People who have struggled with addiction will often assign blame and judgment to their responses, and shame and self-loathing often go hand-in-hand with addiction. Mindfulness and meditation help patients overcome these distressing feelings and learn how to be compassionate toward themselves.
Brain imaging studies on mindfulness and meditation patients found that positive behavioral changes occurred during meditation. These behavioral changes were also present even when a patient was not actively practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques.
Addiction will look different for every patient, and the treatment methods will need to be customized for the individual. Depending on their needs and circumstances, a person in recovery for addiction can benefit from mindfulness and meditation. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please reach out for help today. The experienced therapists at Mission Harbor Behavioral Health are standing by to answer your questions about how to recover from addiction.
The facilities at Mission Harbor are staffed with trained experts to best assist patients with their mental health issues. We are capable of dealing with any and all cases with a licensed staff, equipment, and approved techniques. Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves, and we support your decision in seeking help.
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