Using Mindfulness To Reduce The Risk Of Relapse During Recovery

Using Mindfulness To Reduce The Risk Of Relapse During RecoveryHolistic rehabilitation therapies for the mind, body, and spirit are effective for treating drug and alcohol addictions. Combining medical rehabilitation methods with group therapy, meditation, and massage can help a recovering addict cope with emotions in a healthy way instead of turning to substances. One such method that’s making waves in modern treatment studies today is mindfulness.

The Healing Power Of Mindfulness

It’s common for patients recovering from substance dependencies to suffer relapses on the road to recovery. Relapse is especially common for chronic abusers and those addicted to powerful drugs such as heroin. While a relapse doesn’t have to mean the end of treatment, it can pose a significant setback to a recovering addict and increase the odds of returning to a previous lifestyle. Reducing the rate of relapse has been a top priority for treatment center specialists for years.

Mindfulness is the act of being aware of the moment. Many recovering addicts run the risk of relapse because they lack healthy mechanisms of coping with distressing emotions. Mindfulness enables a patient to explore the source of unknown and discomforting feelings, to understand their roots better, and to overcome them in a way that is healthy and non-addictive.

Essentially, being mindful is the practice of focusing on the here and now. Following one’s breath, accepting the moment, and concentrating on the self can have a positive impact on impulse control and decision-making. Learning awareness of one’s compulsions can weaken the control they have on an individual’s mind, strengthening an addict’s ability to resist temptation and avoid relapse. Today, treatment centers are learning the power of mindfulness to combat substance abuse, sex addiction, eating disorders, and other compulsive issues.

The root of most addictions is compulsive behavior as a reaction to something negative or as a need for a short-term reward. Many addicts turn to substances to block out inner feelings they deem intolerable or discomforting. Mindfulness explores these feelings, embraces them, and shows the individual that it’s okay to have negative emotions. It offers an outlet for dealing with these issues without turning to addictive substances or behaviors.

Mindfulness As Part Of Holistic Treatment

Mindfulness alone is likely not enough to recover from an addiction, but when combined with traditional forms of rehabilitation and treatment, it can be a powerful tool for overcoming what spawned an addiction in the first place. Mindfulness therapy sessions work best in a group setting, with members practicing meditation to focus their minds. These sessions train individuals to react to uncomfortable situations differently, responding with healthy coping mechanisms.

Group mindfulness sessions establish that every recovering addict is human, and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Instead of making patients feel that they’ve failed in some way, it promotes positive feelings of strength and healing. Studies show that mindfulness-based therapies are the most effective when combined with traditional recovery programs such as 12-step programs.

Holistic rehabilitation promotes a full body and mind experience. It combines traditional methods such as group therapy with nontraditional rehab, such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Reiki massage
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Stress management
  • Cognitive behavioral therapies

Mindfulness as part of a holistic treatment especially helps patients who continuously relapse and have trouble staying away from their compulsions. Instead of finding temporary sources of relief from an addiction, mindfulness teaches a lifelong tool to explore the source of the problem and cope with it in a nondestructive way.

How To Promote Mindfulness In Your Everyday Life

If you’re a recovering addict, talk with a professional before beginning any new treatments. Just as recovery is an ongoing battle, mindfulness is something you must practice every day for the best results. Instead of allowing negative emotions to get the best of you, identify the mental noise and become aware of it. Often, this noise is harsh or self-critical thoughts that trigger a habitual response of risky behaviors. Mindfulness enables you to identify these triggers and develop the ability to respond to them in new ways.

Practice breathing exercises as part of a group or on your own to center yourself and achieve mindfulness. Notice habitual patterns in your life that in the past pushed you toward an addictive behavior. Instead of falling prey to the familiar spiral toward self-criticism and unhealthy escape, shift your focus to your senses and take thoughtful action. By addressing an addiction at its core, a recovering patient can finally break free from a damaging cycle.


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