Trusted Content

Mindfulness-Based Addiction Recovery Programs

John Schaffer, LPCC

Medically reviewed by

John Schaffer, LPCC

March 25, 2019

Addiction to alcohol or another drug is a burden that causes mental and emotional tension. In order to alleviate the weight of stressors caused by the disease of addiction, some treatment facilities have opted to implement mindfulness as a strategy for successful rehabilitation.

The Origins Of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that originated from Buddhist principles. In 1979, Kabat-Zinn developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to help people with chronic mental and/or physical health issues achieve a place of stability, a point of health and peace.

By the 21st century, the benefits of mindfulness has become widely accepted. People of all ages and backgrounds use the form of meditation as a daily exercise to bring clarity and awareness.

The Process Of Being Mindful

So, you’re open to the idea of mindfulness, but what might a mindfulness activity include? During this type of meditation, a person might attempt to quietly sit (preferably in a non-distracting environment), eyes closed, while paying attention to his or her own breathing. This first creates a calming effect and is believed to help center the mind.

If an unsuspecting thought creeps into the person’s mind, rather than allowing it to dominate, the person would simply acknowledge and then dismiss the thought. The person has not given the thought too much significance. Some mindfulness instructors teach a person to simply recognize, “Oh, a thought!” just before letting the thought go.

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The goal of mindfulness is to focus and calm the mind. It is a process of self-awareness. A person practicing mindfulness might realize that thoughts are not permanent, and that draining the mind of stressful thoughts is possible.

Mindfulness And Rehab

Yes, mindfulness was initially created in order to address a variety of mental or emotional disorders; however, mindfulness has also been commonly adopted as a way to help treat the ills of a person who suffers from alcoholism or addiction to another substance.

One can imagine that harnessing the ability to become more personally aware would benefit most everyone, especially a person dealing with the abuse of a drug. This is why rehabs have utilized the mindfulness process as part of many addiction treatment programs.

Mindfulness treatments include:

Those developed strictly for individuals dealing with addiction are:

  • Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Community (MBTC)
  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

Does It Actually Work?

With up-and-coming ideas, one will always find skeptics. However, the truth lies in the research: The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that, “the potential utility of mindfulness-based interventions for individuals in recovery from addictive disorders is particularly compelling.”

Two studies have shown that mindfulness “limits experiential avoidance by promoting non-judgmental acceptance of moment-to-moment thoughts, and by interrupting the tendency to respond using [inappropriate] behaviors such as substance use.”

In other words, a person practicing mindfulness has control over his or her thoughts. Without mindfulness, a person might condemn him or herself for feeling tempted by addiction, or he or she might ignore the thoughts completely. Both of these could result in negative self-image, doubt, stress, and maybe even relapse.

With mindfulness, a person has a thought, acknowledges it, then moves on. Rather than allowing the mind to be a cesspool of negative focus, mindfulness allows thoughts to enter and exit the mind without giving those thoughts unjust significance.

The Case For Meditation

The human mind is a center of networks and synapses. Thoughts have the potential to trigger strong responses, imagery, and emotions. Therefore, learning how to become aware of what is taking place in the mind could prove vital to recovering successful to drug addiction.

Practicing mindfulness is a strategy for the mind to develop a new habit: Rather than reacting in a destructive way to unpredictable thoughts, an individual can respond maturely, calmly, and with heightened awareness of him or herself and the surrounding environment.

Treatment For Addiction

Finding a drug rehab that recognizes the benefits of mindfulness might be non-negotiable for you. It’s okay to want the best, holistic rehabilitation program for you or a loved one. Thankfully, many facilities teach mindfulness. The most important decision you will make is becoming immediately aware of the need for rehabilitation and recovery. Contact us now at to connect with a professional who can present treatment options to you.

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