Mindfulness practices have been used by Hindus and Buddhists for thousands of years. Today it is an important part of many holistic treatments including addiction. It goes without saying that your mind controls your addictive tendencies. Once your brain becomes chemically dependent on the effects of drugs and alcohol, it can be nearly impossible to reprogram it without proper treatment.
There is a growing body of research supporting the positive impact that mindfulness practices have on overcoming withdrawal and ultimately addictions. The reason for this is mindfulness requires the individual to actively pay attention to the present moment. In the moment taking stock of what they are thinking and feeling, this is done without any judgment or criticism. Most simplistically put, it requires the person experiencing withdrawal to come out of future or past thinking and focus only on the now.
Why Is This Process Important?
Mindfulness practices are empowering and intentional. Many individuals struggling with addictions tend to feel that they do not have a choice, their crutch or drug of choice, is necessary for them to survive. This can be overpowering during withdrawal, when the individual suffering knows that just one “hit” will make all they are feeling in the moment go away. Moments like these are when mental strength will be more necessary than ever. Having control of your thoughts and not letting them spiral takes a lot of focus and willpower, and practicing mindfulness can help you do that.
In instances where you feel your anxiety rising, or you think you might be on the cusp of relapse, make a conscious decision to take inventory of what is happening in that moment. Not the why or what would fix it, but what it is. What are you feeling? What do you think made you feel this way? How are you going to cope with these feelings? Intentionally analyzing the situation allows you to become more in-tune with your thoughts and emotions.
Mindfulness is also a process of acceptance. The person cannot deny what they are going through, what they are feeling, or what they are experiencing. An important step in achieving sobriety is understanding that you hold the power: allow yourself to experience what you’re feeling, and then act accordingly. Practicing mindfulness will help you cope on your own without feeling the need to turn to drugs or alcohol for support.
Most importantly, mindfulness at its very core is a nonjudgmental process. Part of the cycle of recovery, is the feeling that “I should have been better and stronger than this.” A person going through withdrawal that is degrading him or herself is not truly practicing mindfulness. Negative self-talk will only lead you deeper down the rabbit hole that is addiction. Fighting off negative emotions isn’t healthy either: the only way to move past a situation is to accept what you’re feeling and take action to move past it. Allowing the process of feeling and experiencing a moment provides the gateway to having a breakthrough, such as sobriety.
The Power of Mindfulness
Many addiction recovery programs use some form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help individuals overcome their addictions. It a nutshell it is a teaching of the brain to respond differently to the same triggers. Part of why many that come out of drug rehab centers relapse is due to being in a controlled environment, otherwise known as inpatient treatment. People are not exposed to the triggers that caused them to reach for their crutch. Once they end treatment and are released back into the real world, these triggers will be all around them. It can be easy to fall back into old habits when one finds oneself back in the environment that brought them about in the first place.
Mindfulness, however, works differently. Instead of training a person to behave or react differently, it works to remove the link between the craving and the crutch (drugs or alcohol). This prevents the desire to reach for substance as a solution to a particular circumstance in the first place.
As mentioned earlier, mindfulness focuses on the present, the now. It requires the individual to intentionally experience what is happening, promoting self-regulation. This is taught in order for people to have complete control of a situation, and be aware of what is happening to them as far as feelings and emotions. This empowers the individual, because mindfulness creates a wedge between the trigger and turning to drugs or alcohol to solve the problem.
Mindfulness and Withdrawal
Mindfulness is an effective practice that will help individuals going through the detox process to achieve sobriety. It will also better help them work through their withdrawal symptoms. Experiencing withdrawal, which is nearly inevitable during the recovery process, leaves an individual’s brain with the idea that it never wants to experience that kind of suffering and discomfort ever again.
Withdrawals can be extremely difficult to deal with. Mindfulness helps individuals cope with them on a psychological level. By actively managing your stress, and reminding yourself that this pain is temporary and will soon pass, you are allowing your mind to accept what it is going through rather than resist. As mentioned, mindfulness is about accepting the present moment. If you are successful in accepting your experiences, you are able to move on from them once they’ve past.
At Scottsdale Recovery Center, we are rooted in making sure that each of our patients are receiving the treatments that are best-suited for their conditions. Addiction is a very individual disease, and everyone that comes through our doors undergoes an in-depth analysis and diagnosis. Several treatments can be administered alongside each other, including mindfulness and other meditation-based therapies.
Start beating your addiction today. Scottsdale Recovery Center is available for assistance 24/7, and we urge you to reach out at any hour of the day or night if you feel your addiction has taken over your life. Give us a call for more information on our services, and how you or a loved one can get enrolled today.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 602-346-9142.