People who are living with alcohol and drug addiction can turn to mindfulness exercises and meditation as a part of their addiction treatment and therapy process.
For some people, meditation and mindfulness practice can increase self-awareness and awareness of the present moment for the benefit of substance abuse treatment.
The long-term result of this mindfulness-based treatment can be greater self-control and a corresponding decrease in the risk of relapse when clients return to daily life.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is both a state of being and a practical skill. While mindfulness and meditation are not the same, the terms are often used interchangeably, and meditation can support mindfulness.
Mindfulness and meditation benefit a number of physiological structures and chemical responses to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Examples of affected structures and responses include:
- the amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with emotions
- cortisol, the human stress hormone that produces the fight or flight response
- dopamine receptors, which respond to stimulation of the reward center
All of these responses are unnaturally altered by alcohol and drug abuse.
The two primary types of mindfulness, open monitoring and focused attention, can have long-term benefits for relapse prevention.
Open Monitoring Mindfulness
Open monitoring can be best described as a general awareness of what is going on around you. This includes the sensations, thoughts, and emotions affected by your environment.
Focused attention is a form of mindfulness that focuses on something specific, such as a part of your body, something you see, or an action like walking.
Focused attention acknowledges distractions but is not swayed by them.
Is Meditation Different From Mindfulness?
Yes and no. Meditation is similar to mindfulness in that it too is a state of well-being. But meditation is perhaps more often seen as a specific practice.
Just as there are different states of mindfulness, there are different techniques of meditation that can help you achieve one of those states.
Different Types Of Meditation
There are different forms of meditation that you may find practiced at a recovery center.
You could say that meditation is always mindful. However, mindfulness meditation emphasizes the present moment, which can help naturalize dopamine responses and reduce cravings.
Mindfulness meditation can also be described as creating a judgment-free, morally-neutral space for yourself.
Guided meditation is performed by an instructor who leads you into one of the states of calm mindfulness or relaxation. They may use a variety of techniques to help you achieve this state.
Some forms of meditation blend the physical and the mental to help people enter a focused state of mindfulness.
Yoga is one of these forms. Yoga gives people a variety of poses that increase physical flexibility and have an impact on breathing and relaxation.
Tai Chi Meditation
Tai Chi is another form of meditation. This approach combines slow movements and postures with breathing exercises.
How Does Mindfulness And Meditation Affect Recovery?
Drug and alcohol treatment facilities use a number of tools to address the needs of clients, but mindfulness and meditation are particularly useful in relapse prevention.
Preventing relapse once clients leave treatment is one of the most difficult parts of recovery, so the use of these tools is valuable to increasing the chance of long-term success.
In addition to reducing the risk of relapse, meditation for addiction recovery can have long-term benefits on physical and behavioral health.
For example, you can use meditation techniques to relax and lower your blood pressure when you feel stressed. Other benefits include reduced anxiety and improvement in your quality of life.
The Relationship Between Addiction And Anxiety
Addiction often develops as a way of coping with stress. Opioid drugs, alcohol, and other substances can be used to suppress anxiety and other negative emotions.
When people find sobriety through addiction treatment, they lose their primary coping mechanism. Evidence-based therapy helps them find new ways of dealing with stress.
Mindfulness meditation can provide further support by actively engaging the person cognitively and physically.
Mindfulness-Based Intervention And Addiction
The use of meditation to intervene in a person’s choice to engage in substance abuse is called mindfulness-based intervention (MBI).
There can be many different types of MBI, but these are two common approaches.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
This approach combines mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). MBCT is most often used when treating people with co-occurring depression.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR uses mindfulness exercises and group classes to reduce stress through meditation and yoga.
How Can Addiction Treatment Incorporate Mindfulness-Based Intervention?
You will rarely find addiction treatment that exclusively focuses on meditation and mindfulness practices. Most treatment programs incorporate mindfulness alongside traditional approaches.
This kind of addiction treatment may incorporate medication-assisted treatment and evidence-based therapy alongside instruction on meditation and yoga.
Find Addiction Treatment Today
Have you or a loved one attended a rehab facility for drug and alcohol addiction and not been successful?
You can receive addiction treatment today that incorporates the long-term benefits of meditation to help you avoid relapse.
If you would like to know more about this kind of treatment, call us today.
Published on January 11, 2023
Free Rehab Centers aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Addiction Science & Clinical Practice
- American Psychological Association
- The Harvard Gazette
- Ohio University: Online Master of Social Work
- Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Whole Health Library
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Whole Health Library