Mindfulness and Addiction Meditation Strategies for Recovery

While evidence-based therapies remain the gold standard in addiction treatment, mindfulness and addiction recovery is increasing in popularity as the supplemental therapy can be practiced by almost anyone — in or out of clinical treatment.

This guide will help you better understand mindfulness as an addiction treatment, but it’s important to develop holistic therapies around your unique needs. Contact our addiction specialists today to learn more about how you can overcome addiction.

Mindfulness and Addiction by the Numbers

Almost 1 in 5 Americans deal with anxiety. Depression affects 17.3 million U.S. adults. Experiencing trauma makes people 4x more likely to become an alcoholic; however, mindfulness and addiction recovery is a tool used to improve these mental health problems.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a form of meditation in which a client will focus on being aware and present about what you’re feeling and experiencing at the moment. Mindfulness often involves breathing methods, guided meditation, and other strategies meant to relax the mind and body.

Learn how mindfulness can help your recovery.

Oftentimes in substance abuse treatment, a person’s addiction can be a direct result of underlying mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and more. During treatment, if clients want to overcome an addiction to prescription painkillers or excessive drinking, they must face these problems.

Mindfulness and addiction treatments can help a client come to terms with these mental health problems and take steps toward improving and solving these issues.

Why is Mindfulness Important in Recovery?

Mindfulness and addiction treatment can lead to many positive outcomes for those in recovery – including improved mental health and reduced relapse. It also helps clients learn to be attentive and aware of the present rather than focus on problems in their past which are contributing to addiction.

The first step is to identify your “in-breath” and “out-breath” and focus your attention on it. You make an effort to stop your thinking and only pay attention to your in-breath and out-breath.

“You are breathing in, and while breathing in, you know that you are alive. The in-breath can be a celebration of the fact that you are alive, so it can be very joyful.”

While you breathe in, focus on your in-breath from the beginning to the end. Do the same for your out-breath, follow it throughout its duration. With this, mindfulness becomes uninterrupted, and concentration will improve.

“If you continue like that, your breathing will naturally become deeper and slower, more harmonious and peaceful. You don’t have to make any effort – it happens naturally.”

The third step is to focus on your body during this breathing. Become aware of your whole body as you breath and recognize it throughout the process.

“When your mind is with your body, you are well-established in the here and the now. You are fully alive.”

When becoming aware of the body as done in step three, you will likely notice tension, pain, or stress in the body. During your breath-out you can focus on releasing the tension built up in the body.

“Peace is possible at that moment, and it can be practiced many times a day. – in the workplace, while you are driving, while you are cooking, while you are doing the dishes, while you are watering the vegetable garden. It is always possible to practice releasing the tension in yourself.”

You can put all these steps together during a walk. You don’t need to put much effort into this step, it is simply done to make the process more enjoyable as you can move around and experience nature and the outdoors if you’d like.

“Every step is enjoyable. Every step helps you touch the wonders of life. Every step is joy.”

There are three primary mindfulness and addiction recovery techniques, each with a specific and unique goal. These techniques are often coupled with more evidence-based therapies to help clients progress.

Below we’ve explained the goal of each therapy and highlighted what aspects of addiction they tackle best.

Man In Therapy Lounge Icon Representing Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a form of meditation which works to help clients reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It has shown to be effective in improving mental health, physical health, and improving overall emotional state. This form of mindfulness normally consists of eight weekly group sessions which last 2-3 hours each.

Person With Exposed Brain Icon For Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) takes portions of cognitive behavioral therapy and MBSR to help teach a client in remission from a mental health disorder, like depression, the skills to prevent a relapse. This form of mindfulness has been shown to helpful in many areas including improving remission rates, reducing depressive symptoms, and improving overall quality of life.

Man Covering Face Icon Representing Mindfulness

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention

The goal of mindfulness-based relapse prevention is to have a client develop awareness and acceptance of thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and utilize these as a coping mechanism when exposed to situations which may result in relapse. Learning specific relapse prevention strategies in conjunction with a client practicing mindfulness technique allows an association to be formed between the two.

MBRP has been researched and proven more effective than traditional 12-step programs in reducing cravings and helping people achieve long-term recovery.

Before practicing these forms of therapy, it may be hard to see how mindfulness can be helpful in addiction treatment.

Mindfulness and meditation can lead to drastic improvements for not just those in recovery, but anyone dealing with any sort of stress or mental health problems. The best way to understand the ways in which mindfulness and addiction techniques can improve a person’s well-being is to look at the many benefits of practicing mindfulness.

What Are 5 Benefits of Mindfulness?

The 5 benefits of mindfulness include: improved physical health, enhanced social functioning, improved emotional state, increased cognitive ability, improved mental health.

Studies have shown positive client outcomes for those dealing with substance use disorders who were treated with meditation and mindfulness therapy had improved outcomes with variety of medical and mental health disorders including stress, anxiety, depression, and coping, all of which are underlying problems which may be contributing to a substance use disorder.

While many addiction rehab facilities use behavioral therapies to treat clients, it can be harder to find centers that focus on the whole person and provide integrated treatment solutions.

At The Hope House, we offer holistic treatment for all clients who are admitted to our rehabs around the valley. Our masters-level clinicians develop personalized treatment plans that help clients conquer their mental health problems and substance abuse for good. We believe in arming our clients with as many tools as possible to help them achieve long-term sobriety.

Begin your recovery journey today.