Why Mindfulness Mediation Works for Recovery
When caught in the midst of addiction, it can often feel like you are on a roller coaster. The ups and downs are extremely disruptive and difficult to control. For many trapped in the addictive cycle, it can seem nearly impossible to exercise real self-control. Intense emotions in response to any number of situations quickly lead to using again, regardless of how much you may want to stop. It is often this cycle of using, trying to quit, failing, and using again that leads people to seek out professional help in the form of rehabilitation.
Mindfulness: Treatment Designed to Help You Regulate Your Emotions
While in treatment, you have the help of professionals in overcoming difficult emotional impulses. But when you leave treatment, you may find it more difficult to maintain self-control. This is why an effective rehabilitation program needs to give you the tools to regain your equilibrium in a wide variety of situations. The ability to regulate your emotions is a necessity if you want to avoid relapsing over the weeks, months and years that follow your initial treatment.
One treatment tool that has become increasingly popular for substance abuse over recent years is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness mediation is a process of learning to become aware of the patterns of your thoughts, urges, emotions and feelings. In mindfulness meditation, you observe all of these thoughts and feelings without placing judgment on them. They are not good or bad, they just are. You do not need to “fix” them while you are meditating. You only need to observe them.
Mindfulness meditation allows you to gain some control over how you react to your emotions. Over time, you come to see that these emotions rise up and then recede. You do not need to control them, you only need to let them be. By watching them and accepting them, you become increasingly able to avoid the automatic responses to your emotions that have so often caused you problems – like taking a drink or using drugs. It often takes only a few minutes a day of practice to gain considerable benefits from mindfulness meditation.
From Ancient Practices to Modern Medicine
Although mindfulness meditation was originally developed as a part of Buddhist teachings, it has become an exciting area of research for modern science, particularly those working on addiction-related research. The scientific journal “Substance Abuse” devoted several issues to mindfulness-based therapies, where a variety of researchers submitted peer-reviewed papers on the effectiveness of the practice. Addiction researchers are finding that mindfulness-based therapies are helpful for addiction in numerous ways, both alone and combined with other therapies.
Holistic Treatment to Achieve True Recovery
The ultimate objective of substance abuse treatment is to help you lead a healthy, productive life. However, the road to this objective requires much more than just eliminating the current drug or alcohol use. To be effective over the long term, treatment must give you the tools you need to avoid using the problem substance or substances as you move forward in your everyday life.
Mindfulness meditation is one of many useful tools you will gain from substance abuse treatment. A holistic approach – one that addresses all facets of your experience – is necessary for you to get the results you want out of rehab. Mindfulness meditation is something you will continue to find value in long after you have left treatment.
Marcus, M., Zgierska, A., Mindfulness-Based Therapies for Substance Use Disorders: Part 1 (Editorial), National Institute of Health (NCBI), October 2009, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2818765/