Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery
Sobriety with Focus and Less Cravings
Mindfulness is having the internal focus to be quietly aware of your own thoughts and impulses – without judgment or acting on the impulses.
It is easy to understand how mindfulness can assist in relapse prevention and addiction recovery. Long-term addiction recovery is dependent on discarding habitual behaviors to drink or drug – and engage instead in new sober activities. Most addiction treatment centers now offer at least some training in mindfulness.
Decreasing habitual behavior through mindfulness – and disconnecting the associated triggering mechanisms for relapse – are key to lasting addiction recovery. Mindfulness supports relapse prevention.
Harvard MRI Study Evidence of Meditation’s Cognitive Benefits
In 2011, Harvard medical school researchers (Eight Weeks to a Better Brain) found that participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.
A study published in the Jan. 30 2011 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging was the first to document that mindfulness practice produced changes over time in the brain’s gray matter. The gray matter areas of the brain regions affected involved learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.
Another study from Carnegie Mellon University, published on Jan. 29, 2016 in the journal Biological Psychiatry, demystifies the neuro-biological effects of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment.
Benefits of Mindfulness
According to a practice review published in 2010 by the APA (American Psychological Association), What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness? – the practice of mindfulness has several distinct advantages in mood regulation, stress reduction and self awareness. With increased self-awareness, impulsive and habitual behaviors decreased.
Benefits of Mindfulness in addiction treatment include:
- Reduced Pain – A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience March 16, 2016 concluded that Mindfulness meditation reliably reduces pain. (Mindfulness-Meditation-Based Pain Relief Is Not Mediated by Endogenous Opioids)
- Reduced Rumination – Several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces obsessive thoughts.
- Stress reduction. Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress.
- Boosts to working memory. Improvements to working memory appear to be another benefit of mindfulness.
- Focus. Another study examined how mindfulness meditation affected participants’ ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information. Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were correlated directly with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning (Moore and Malinowski, 2009).
- Less Emotional Reactivity – Research also supports that mindfulness meditation decreases emotional reactivity. This results in being able to ‘catch’ habitual reactions before it becomes an action.
- More Cognitive Flexibility – Another line of research suggests that in addition to helping people become less reactive, mindfulness meditation may also provide greater cognitive flexibility to avoid habitual behaviors.
→ One study found that people who practice mindfulness meditation appear to develop the skill of self-observation, which neurologically disengages the automatic pathways that were created by prior learning and enables present-moment input to be integrated in a new way (Mindfulness Training and Neural Integration, Siegel, 2007a).
- Increased Emotional Resilience – Meditation also activates the brain region associated with more adaptive responses to stressful or negative situations (Cahn & Polich, 2006; Davidson et al., 2003). Activation of this region corresponds with faster recovery to baseline after being negatively provoked (Davis and Hayes, What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness).
- Relationship Satisfaction – Several studies find that a person’s ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction by increasing the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one’s emotions to a partner.
Need Help? Alcohol and Drug Addiction Causes Serious Problems in Families
If your family is experiencing the effects of a loved one’s addiction, it is time to take the necessary steps to get help. New Start Recovery Solutions can help you with alcohol and drug rehab in the US.
For immediate help in the San Jose, CA area – Call David Burke at 877-367-9930 for assistance.
If PTSD or any form of mental illness is also involved (depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and more) – it is critical to make certain the rehab center you choose has Dual Diagnosis addiction treatment. Dual diagnosis is also known as co-occurring disorders in substance use disorders (SUD) treatment.
Contact David Burke at New Start Recovery Solutions for details and more information on addiction treatment programs that will fit your needs – and work best for you.
Or call 877-367-9930 now to inquire about how we can be of assistance.
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