Mindfulness-based treatment for addiction is a condition of mental awareness that traditionally focuses on using meditation practices for the treatment of addiction. It has become a principle element of cognitive-behavioural therapy, such as cognitive mindfulness therapy, acceptance and commitment, and dialect behavioural therapy and has drastically improved the lives for many people.
Practicing Mindfulness for Addiction
To understand mindfulness-based treatment for addiction and how it can help you, practicing it yourself is going to give you the best insight. It’s the practice of being aware of all your internal and external environments, which are key factors that comprise your response based on the things going around you. The main goal of practicing mindfulness is to become acquainted with the feeling without getting attached to the things you are experiencing. Perfecting the act of mindfulness can take practice, and dedicating a certain amount of self-discipline to focus on your present state instead of your past or future can be all you need to succeed.
How does mindfulness help with addiction?
You’re probably wondering how mindfulness can battle such a deep, overpowering wound such as addiction. Using mindfulness-based treatment for addiction acts as a form of therapy. The most primary thing that mindfulness therapy does is it makes you feel a little more in control by slowing things down. For example, it teaches you how to remain in control instead of chasing after thoughts and feelings. It helps you silence the mental chaos so you can attain a sense of calmness and stillness. This is key since mental clutter is one of the primary reasons that make people lean on addiction, be it with drugs, marijuana, technology or another type of substance abuse.
Another thing that mindfulness-based treatment for addiction also allows you to fully observe and enjoy every positive experience that you go through in everyday life that addiction clouds you from seeing. Mindfulness therapy enables you to feel the beauty of the world through your consciousness and this helps you begin the healing process from the inside out. As a result, you won’t seek addictive substances to get those happy feelings because you are already experiencing them from things in your everyday life.
The third best thing about mindfulness therapy is that it helps you understand your reactions and responses to triggers. The goal of achieving mindfulness is to separate yourself from things while simultaneously observing how your reaction has changed from what it was when your emotions would provoked you in the past. People often come to new realizations about key factors for overcoming addiction, such as understanding what things trigger them to use drugs, alcohol, or any other substance abuse. This makes it easier for them to control those triggers.
Mindfulness-based therapy has proven to be effective for treating addiction, as mindfulness is one of the efficient tools of cognitive-behavioural therapy.
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Benefits of mindfulness-based therapy
Mindfulness started as a practice for Buddhism, but is now practiced by other religions across the globe, often in a form of prayer or meditation technique. Practicing mindfulness improves both psychological and physical symptoms and brings positive changes to your health and attitude. Several other benefits of mindfulness therapy are:
Mindfulness improves your quality of life
Practicing mindfulness increases your capacity to support a positive attitude for a quality life. It eases the “what if’s” and helps you fully engage in your daily activities that make you feel good (and that distract you from your addiction). By focusing on the present with mindfulness, you are less likely to get trapped in the future worries and regrets of the past.
Practicing mindfulness can improve physical health
Mindfulness improves physical health in a variety of ways as it relieves your body from stress. This can help treat heart diseases, lower blood pressure, improve your sleep quality, relieve gastrointestinal issues, reduce chronic pain and so much more. This is because stress is often the root cause of many health issues.
Mindfulness therapy teaches you important skills
Mindfulness teaches several skills that are imperative to your emotional, physical and mental health. For example, it:
- Allows you to observe the big and small things happening around you in a healthy way
- Teaches you how to describe the things you’re feeling
- Lets you participate without becoming self-conscious
- Teaches you how to accept things without judging them
- Trains your mind to focus on a single thing at a time (without getting distracted by any other thought)
- Helps you work efficiently
- Aids in recognizing and acting without doubting your decisions
- Develops the feeling of love and kindness towards yourself and others
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How to Practice Mindfulness
There is more than one way to practice mindfulness for addiction. However, the goal remains the same which is to make you feel alert, focused, and relaxed by paying attention to your thoughts and emotions in this moment without any judgement. This allows you to focus on your present rather than your past or future.
Mindfulness Through Meditation
Sit silently in place and focus on your natural breathing or a mantra repeatedly. This allows you to stay in the moment without judgment. If your mind drifts, return your focus to your breath or mantra.
Mindfulness Through Body Sensations
Pay attention and observe every minor body sensation, such as an itch or tickle or the way your body feels up against your meditation cushion. Without judgement, observe each part of the body from head to toe. This technique is commonly referred to as a “Body Scan”.
Mindfulness With Your Senses
Practice mindfulness by noticing something for every one of your senses – sound, smell, taste, touch, sight. Commonly referred to as a grounding technique or the “5-4-3-2-1 Technique”, your goal is to find something that appeals to each one of your senses in this exact moment. For example, 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can smell, and so on and so forth. This grounds you and distracts your mind from intrusive thoughts.
Mindfulness Through Your Emotions
Focus on your present emotions, instead of thinking abut the past or future. Gently reminding yourself to come back to the moment is all you need to start adding mindfulness therapy into your day.
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Mindfulness-Based Treatment for Addiction
Here are two main mindfulness exercises to get you practicing on your own:
Basic meditation for mindfulness
To practice the basic technique of mindfulness meditation, sit relaxed on a straight back chair or crossed-legged. Focus on your breathing, following the sensation of your incoming breath through your nose and the outgoing breath traveling through your mouth. You can also focus on the movement of your stomach when you inhale and exhale. It takes practice and your mind will wander, but bring it back to focus on the sensation of your breath. Once you have gotten the basics down, you can widen your focus to become aware of other sensations such as sound, sight and focus on your ideas. Remember, feel without judging them.
Practice staying in the present daily
Adding mindfulness practices into your daily life is a great way to start benefiting from this type of therapy. It lets you live and enjoy your life in the present moment without getting affected by past actions or future consequences. You can choose any kind of task to practice on your thoughts, whether it’s eating, playing, brushing your teeth, walking, touching a partner, etc. Bring your attention to the sensations of whatever activity you’re doing. Breathe through your nose and allow the breath to your fill and empty out your belly. Notice the sensation while inhaling and exhaling as you take slow and deliberate breaths while practicing a task. Engage yourself entirely to your senses.
Mindfulness-based therapy is a practice that consists of focusing on your sensations without judging them. It helps you overcome cravings and addictions, and can be an excellent skill to have for avoiding a relapse. Contacting a drug addiction hotline can also serve as an excellent resource for overcoming addiction.