In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of stimulation coming from our technological devices and just the general rush from one thing to the next. Mindfulness is an ancient technique associated with meditation that has now been implemented in a variety of different therapeutic techniques to help clients focus their minds and become aware of what they are experiencing in the present moment. Mindfulness has been proven to be a wonderful tool to aid those suffering from addiction, as it helps bring the individual into the here-and-now, calms the mind and body, and gives the individual information about how they respond to themselves and their surroundings.
Why Practise Mindfulness?
The purpose behind practising mindfulness is to allow yourself to become aware without becoming attached to what you’re experiencing. When being mindful, you are aware of both your external surroundings as well as your inner experience. This includes your response to what is occurring around you at that moment. It may seem like a fairly straightforward concept, however, it does require a certain level of self-discipline. For many people, it can be a real struggle to focus only on the present moment without getting lost in thoughts about the past or thinking ahead to the future.
Mindfulness and Therapy
You may be wondering how mindfulness can help therapeutically. Mindfulness describes a state of mental awareness and focuses traditionally used in various meditation practices. More recently, it has been incorporated with other therapies such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. These different techniques all focus on awareness and acceptance of one’s being and how one responds, whilst implementing tools to aid change.
How Does Mindfulness Help With Addiction?
The opposite of addiction is connection and connection doesn’t always mean to other people, it can also include connecting to yourself and your surroundings. One of the most fundamental ways mindfulness assists in helping with the treatment of addiction is by slowing things down. It encourages you to prevent yourself rushing your activities and thought processes. By lowering the volume of your mental dialogue you can achieve a sense of tranquility and avoid turning to substances to do so.
These practices encourage someone struggling with addiction to transform a negative mindset into a more present and positive one. That is not to say that bad days and difficult emotional hardships won’t occur, but by implementing mindfulness on all days, good and bad, it can aid in how we handle the ups and downs that are guaranteed in life. When an individual is enjoying life, they are less likely to seek out pleasure through addictive and destructive behaviours.
Mindfulness can also help you learn a lot about yourself and the way you react to certain situations. Finally understanding your reactions and the reasons behind them will allow you to let things go that might have provoked you in the past. People often come to new realisations about themselves and the things that trigger them to drink, use drugs, or engage in other addictive behaviors, which can make it easier to respond differently in the future.
What Does Mindfulness Involve?
The key to mindfulness is making it work for you. Every individual will be drawn to different ways and elements of practising mindfulness. There are key skills taught that can then be adapted in order to make it unique to you. These skills include:
Observation: This includes paying close attention to what is going on around you
Description: Being able to put into words what is happening/happened, and how it feels/felt
Participation: Becoming involved in an activity without being self-conscious about it
No judgments: Accepting things as they are rather than judging them, this includes ourselves
Focus: Without distraction from other ideas or events, focusing our attention on one thing in the present moment
Effectiveness: Doing what works for you rather than second-guessing yourself and implementing someone else’s practice that suits them
Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention
A recently developed program of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention combines cognitive-behavioural therapeutic approaches to preventing relapse with mindfulness practice and relapse prevention. It had been developed by G. Alan Marlatt and his colleagues at the Addictive Behaviours Research Centre at the University of Washington and was focused on helping people in their recovery from addictive behaviours. (Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy Vol 19 Issue 3)
Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention includes the following key concepts:
- Acceptance of cravings and urges
- Awareness of triggers and cravings
- The role of thoughts in relapse
- Mindfulness in daily life and in high-risk situations
- Self-care as part of a healthy lifestyle
- Social support and keeping your mindfulness practice going
Mindfulness at CATCH Recovery
Mindfulness is a lifelong practice that requires patience, time, and perseverance. People suffering from addiction can experience huge benefits from incorporating mindfulness into their everyday lifestyles. At CATCH, our recovery programme incorporates mindfulness therapy and other evidence-based therapies like it.
You can call our admissions team for your free addiction assessment, and they will be able to advise you on the next steps.
Our clinic is based in South West London, which is accessible from anywhere in the UK. However, if you need additional support but don’t live in the South East of England, you may benefit from some of the outpatient services we offer. If you require residential rehab and are unable to travel to London, we also provide referrals to rehabs in other areas in the UK and Ireland.