How Mindfulness Helps in Addiction Recovery
Mindfulness is simply a technique to be in the present movement and aware of what is going on around you. It is an ancient Buddhist practice that is supported by modern science. Every year, more and more research has declared the benefits of a regular mindfulness meditation practice.
Moreover, if someone is ready to recover from alcohol or any drug addiction, then practicing mindfulness will be very helpful. It can be especially helpful in overcoming addiction, whether drug addiction or even the shakes from drinking alcohol. Mindfulness has been included in several treatment methods, including mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or dialectical behavioural therapy.
What is Mindfulness?
Buddha introduced mindfulness as a part of spiritual enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago; it is an art of being present in our own lives. It’s a pleasant way of opening our minds to greater awareness and, a deeper understanding of ourselves and our surroundings.
Many studies have shown that mindfulness activities can reshape the brain positively, improve physical and mental health, and promote overall well-being. It can suppress anxiety and provide self-awareness and help us acknowledge and cope with emotions that may not be implanted in reality.
Including mindfulness exercises in the treatment helps those who have struggled with addiction to alcohol, drugs, or other destructive behaviours.
The connection between mindfulness and addiction:
In the human body, the brain is the only organ specifically designed to be shaped by experience and practice. When we repeatedly engage in thoughts and behavior that drive addiction, we unknowingly shaped our brains in ways that worked against us and prevented us from being mindful.
The mindfulness exercises empower us to intentionally reshape our brains in ways that bring greater control, awareness, and happiness to our lives.
Five ways mindfulness helps in addiction recovery:
One of the core strengths of mindfulness is that you can practice it anywhere, anytime. You don’t have to adopt a particular system or invest a great deal of time and energy to take advantage of it.
Followings are some of the mindfulness practices that can enhance recovery in many ways.
- Mindfulness is the opposite of evasion - Substance use disorders usually begin to avoid painful emotions, intrusive thoughts, social anxiety, and physical pain. What starts as support soon turns into an addiction. However, when you practice mindfulness, you teach yourself to accept whatever you are experiencing instead of trying to escape it. And after you get what is happening and investigating the experience, you learn that unpleasant things are temporary and tolerable.
- Mindfulness helps you learn to relax - Through your addiction recovery journey, it is essential to learn to relax. Mindfulness reduces stress, which ultimately helps to decrease pain, anxiety, craving, and the physical harm associated with chronic stress. Most people do not know that when they become stressed because it glides in gradually, but before they know it, they become tense and irritable. However, practicing mindfulness every day can provide two significant benefits for stress. Primarily, it provides a daily break during which you can sit quietly and get relaxed. This can prevent stress from continually growing. Secondly, it makes you more aware of what is going in your body and mind when you relax, you are aware of the tension expanding in. When you know how to relax, you can easily manage anxiety and cravings.
- Mindfulness reduces the repetition of depression - The majority of people who look for treatment for addiction disorder also experience a co-occurring mental health issue. Among which the most common mental health issues are depression and anxiety disorders. Many depressed people will develop an alcohol use disorder at some point in their life while others will develop a drug use disorder. However, some studies conducted on meditation found that the practice can relieve the symptoms of depression to a certain degree. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has been proved to reduce substance use disorder; a significant reduction in depression risk can make a huge difference.
- Mindfulness helps to respond instead to react - One of the reasons addictions are so hard to beat is that pattern of conditioned reactions. Part of your brain is responsible for high reasoning and nearly gets cut out of the decision-making process, and you react reflexively to stimuli associated with drugs and alcohol. Meditation mindfulness changes the structure of the brain. The part responsible for attention, self-control, planning, and memory, among other things. Mindfulness practice can help you to understand your thoughts, both good and bad.
- Mindfulness encourages compassion - Compassion is necessary for addiction recovery for two significant reasons. Firstly, it helps you connect with other people, particularly other people recovering from addiction. To have strong social support and a feeling of belonging is among the best prophet of a successful recovery. But this can be quite challenging to build, as many people have become normal and feel ashamed and isolated.
Another way empathy helps you recover from addiction is that you can expand compassion to yourself. People going through addiction recovery often feel shame and guilt and even think that they don’t deserve to feel happy. However, feeling sympathy for yourself allows you to move ahead and improve the way you talk to yourself. You become less judgemental, which reduces the feeling of depression, anxiety, and negativity.
Mindfulness is helpful for addiction recovery, but it can also help deal with various mental health issues such as depression, stress, and anxiety. Mindfulness meditation and exercise is an ancient practice that was initiated with Buddha. However, regular mindfulness practices can be an effective and efficient way to deal with any addiction recovery.
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