Those with addictions are often focused solely on the substance or activity to which they are addicted. The individual may find it difficult to concentrate on anything else and will spend significant portions of their day thinking about the thing they are addicted to or actually satisfying their cravings. However, when these addicts enter rehabilitation, they may struggle to think clearly without their drug of choice. This mental fuzziness combined with erratic emotions and feelings can cause many recovering addicts to relapse, especially in early recovery.
One of the best tools to help recovering addicts learn to adjust to sober life is mindfulness; this is a tool now used by many rehabilitation clinics across the world.
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a type of meditation technique often practiced by Buddhist monks. It involves focusing on the present moment and learning to become aware of one’s feelings and emotions without judgement. Mindfulness has become an essential tool in teaching recovering addicts to learn how to deal with their cravings by becoming aware of what triggers these. It helps to stop the cycle of addictive behaviour as the person learns how to suppress his or her cravings by accepting their feelings and dealing with them instead of giving in to them.
Mindfulness skills include learning to stay in the moment, becoming aware, and observing feelings without judgement. Staying in the moment requires the ability to stop worrying about what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. If recovering addicts can learn how to do this, they will be able to focus on the here and now and deal with the feelings they are experiencing.
Becoming aware allows individuals to focus on one thing at a time, which allows that person to be conscious of what he or she is doing. Recovering addicts are taught how to become aware of everything around them, including feelings they are having as well as things they are seeing, touching, or smelling. By doing this, they can learn how to cope with urges and cravings.
Observing feelings without judgement means learning how to notice feelings but not acting on them. If a person can accept feelings they are having without labelling them, they will be able to let these feelings pass without worrying about them or acting upon them.
How Mindfulness Helps in Recovery
- Mindfulness is useful for helping people deal with stress. Stress is often a reason people turn to drugs or alcohol in the first place. Many addicts self-medicate with drugs or alcohol when they are faced with stressful situations. Mindfulness teaches recovering addicts a different way to deal with stress. Those who practice mindfulness tend to be able to focus on the present instead of worrying about the future. Many studies have shown that mindfulness is an effective method for reducing stress.
- Mindfulness helps to treat mental health conditions including anxiety and depression. By learning how to break the cycle of negative thoughts, people are less likely to suffer from these conditions.
- Those who practice mindfulness become more aware of their feelings and thoughts, which improve their decision-making. Once a person can think clearly, he or she will be more likely to make decisions that will have a positive effect on their health and wellbeing.
- Mindfulness allows recovering addicts to deal with cravings without acting upon them. They can learn that it is okay to have these feelings without having to give in to them.
- Mindfulness helps recovering addicts spot the warning signs that they may be heading towards a relapse. By being able to spot these warning signs, the individual can speak to a therapist or support group and avoid falling into a life of addiction once more.