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Using Mindfulness to Curb Addiction

Drug addiction is a problem that affects millions of people in different ways. Some people try different programs thinking they will help them stop using addictive substances. Unfortunately, some programs do not work for everyone. However, psychological practices like mindfulness help some individuals quit using addictive substances.

Mindfulness can be described as a psychological process that entails focusing attention on the current or the present. For some people, mindfulness is the ticket that enables them to put their past behind.

After calling a drug hotline or overdose hotline (Addictionresource.com), individuals get the information they need to seek assistance. That’s because this line is manned by professionals that know how to help individuals that are battling addiction. But, undergoing conventional treatment for addiction may not be enough.

Conventional treatment entails detoxification and staying in rehabilitation housing. After several months, a person may continue to receive outpatient services. This can entail spending several hours at a treatment center per day. A person may also particulate in meditation classes.

Meditation can mark the turning point of a person because it enables them to put their past behind and start a sober life. Mindful meditation is deployed in different techniques but it entails focusing attention on a person’s present. This makes an individual more aware of their feelings, bodily presence, and thoughts. What’s more, mindfulness enables a person to process feelings, thoughts, and bodily responses and to accept them without judgment.

Skeptics can see meditation and mindfulness as mind-over-matter or new-age nonsense. However, research has shown that mindfulness has the potential to help with intervention and prevention of a relapse. Nevertheless, researchers continue to examine the potential use of mindfulness in addiction treatment by curbing cravings, as well as, reducing severity and risk of relapse. The results of the studies done so far are promising.

Why Use Mindfulness to Curb Addiction?

Some people see mindfulness meditation as an alternative or fluffy, hippie approach whose substance is negligible. And, this is not all. It is also seen as a systematic approach to understanding human habits, minds, and behaviors.

Although meditation is not a miracle cure, it is hard work. Developing mindfulness and meditating requires effort. However, a person can learn to practice mindfulness meditation and acquire skills that will yield better outcomes. These can include stopping or reducing their consumption of methamphetamine, opioids, tobacco, and alcohol.

After calling a drug helpline and undergoing treatment, the return to the past behavior or relapse can happen. This is very common when it comes to addiction recovery. Relapse rates vary from one drug to another. However, relapse rates mirror those of chronic illnesses.

For instance, 40 to 60% of individuals with substance use disorder relapse after undergoing treatment. 50 to 70% of individuals treated for asthma or high blood pressure relapse for failure to follow their plan for medical treatment.

Addiction treatment that is based on mindfulness trains individuals to pause for a while and be in their present moments. This enables them to acknowledge their cravings and restructure natural reward pathways.

This is very important because therapeutically, a person should relearn important things life to recover. That’s because these things are broken when a person becomes an addict. They give up things that are meaningful in life to pursue their drug use and addictive behaviors.

How Mindfulness Works in Curbing Addiction

Although the approach varies from one rehab center to another, mindfulness treatment programs offer basic group meetings. Trained instructors lead these meetings and they provide a framework for individuals to practice every day. In some cases, apps and recordings are used to guide patients. Mindfulness can be offered as a supplementary or primary treatment. This depends on the individual that is receiving care.

Mindfulness treatment plans are designed to enable individuals to become experts. Thus, instead of telling the patient what is wrong with them and what they should do, the instructor takes a more collaborative approach towards helping individuals observe what is happening and learn to observe their processes. Thus, individuals learn to observe and figure out what is wrong from their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Mindfulness has been used in the medical field in the U.S for years. For instance, research has been conducted to establish the impact of mindfulness-based stress-reduction when it comes to regulating emotions in people with a social anxiety disorder. Researchers have also tested this approach for primary care, pain, and orthopedic patients. At the beginning of the 21st century, researchers started to investigate mindfulness-based programs as a treatment for different addictions, including tobacco and alcohol use disorder.

Recent clinical trials have connected the mindfulness approach to relapse prevention, reduced cravings, reduced stress, substance use, and decreased impulsivity. As such, it’s important to find out if a facility offers mindfulness when they call rehab.

Further Research is Still Necessary

So far, clinical trials have acted as perfect-case scenarios. Many works have been done under the supervision of researchers in more controlled environments. Thus, the efficacy of practicing mindfulness in real-world situations has not been observed so far. For instance, the efficacy of mindfulness practice in the office of a physician that provides primary care or a treatment center has not been observed. What’s more, most people are unlikely to inquire whether a facility provides mindfulness as an aspect of treatment when calling a drug hotline number.

Consequently, researchers want to roll out a group course in primary care settings and treatment centers. This course will entail the provision of mindfulness sessions in groups that resemble those of Alcoholics Anonymous in hospitals.

This is very important because a new treatment can take years to get into different settings where physician care is provided after it has been developed. Currently, clinical trials seem to converge and say that practicing mindfulness is an effective way to address the addiction problem. As such, the next step is to get the approach out into a broader setting.

The Bottom Line

Mindfulness has been provided as an addiction treatment in loosey-goosey ways. However, this is likely to change and mindfulness will no longer be used without structured, rigorous, and research-proven approaches. People will also start asking whether mindfulness is part of the provided treatment when calling rehab numbers. That’s because mindfulness will become an important aspect of addiction treatment.

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