When people enter an addiction rehabilitation center, they may have difficulties with thinking clearly without substance abuse. This mental fuzziness in combination with an unstable emotional state can provoke relapse, especially in the early stage of recovery.

One of the most efficient tools that help recovering addicts to adjust to a new sober lifestyle is mindfulness. It empowers people to break the continual cycle of addictive behaviors.

The Definition of Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be defined as the practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, with a purpose to reach a state of calm. It’s a therapeutic technique practiced by the patients of many free rehab centers (check at https://addictionresource.com/drug-rehab/free-rehabs/). 

There are three critical elements of mindfulness: 

  • It’s intentional. The patient must consciously and purposefully concentrate on what they are experiencing from one moment to another. 
  • It’s accepting. The patient doesn’t deny what they think or feel. 
  • It’s non-judgmental. The person sees things as they are without criticizing themselves or making harsh judgments. 

The Roots of Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness came from Buddhism. Buddha introduced it as a way to achieve spiritual enlightenment about 2,500 years ago. It’s about opening the mind to deeper awareness and a better understanding of ourselves and the world. However, this practice appeared in western medicine only in 1979 when Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn launched a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for the chronically ill.  

Recently, mindfulness has become a popular element of certain types of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectic Behavior Therapy. It’s incorporated into many free substance abuse programs.

The Role of Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery 

A person with an addiction to alcohol or drugs constantly thinks about satisfying the cravings. When they are in active use, they reach for the next hit without thinking. They feel as though their cravings are in charge of their thoughts. They are aware of their actions, but they are not being mindful of them. 

Mindfulness can teach a recovering individual to focus attention on the present moment, to recognize and accept their feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. The person starts to understand why they have cravings and how to deal with them. They acquire strategies for better self-management and coping skills. So, they become able to resist a possible relapse by spotting the triggers that provoke their cravings. 

Mindfulness also helps to resolve the internal conflicts that led to substance use. A person reduces regrets and pain associated with the past and worries about the future.

Mindfulness helps people in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction in several specific ways:

  • It teaches a new way of coping with stress without substance use. People learn to stay present instead of worrying about the past or future. 
  • A person who practices mindfulness becomes more in-tune with oneself and their self-awareness grows.
  • This practice also helps to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression, which contributes to forming a positive mindset.
  • Mindfulness impacts decision-making. The thoughts become clearer and a person can make healthier decisions that affect their health and well-being positively. 
  • With the help of mindfulness, a person acknowledges, accepts, and copes with past emotions and feelings. Often, they are the reasons the person turned to substance use. 
  • Additionally, the practice decreases insomnia, sharpens memory, helps to deal with pain more effectively, and improves the ability to cope with negative emotions like anger and fear.

Ways to be Mindful

Mindfulness brings the best results if done frequently through formal practice. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t practice it after leaving a free drug rehabilitation center. You can do it as long as you have time and inclination. Here are some options:

  • Traditional meditation. Find a quiet place where you can concentrate on clearing your thoughts and breathing. This can help to de-stress.
  • Yoga. This means of mindfulness practice connects the mind and body. Yoga classes are offered by holistic treatment centers to assist in recovery from addictions. 
  • Changing eating habits. Being mindful of what you eat can change your weight and boost mood and energy. 
  • Spending time in nature. For some people, nature provides a meditative experience. Have a walk through in a nearby natural setting. It can help you take your mind off stressors.

Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Human Brain

A person with regular substance use is shaping the brain in a negative way that works as a barrier to becoming mindful. Fortunately, these changes are reversible. 

Studies have found that 8 weeks of engagement in mindfulness activities (like meditation and yoga) can give noticeable positive results. It helps to intentionally reshape the brain by altering the neural pathways. This brings greater awareness, control, and a sense of well-being. 

Other research demonstrates that mindfulness practice may increase the density of gray matter in brain regions responsible for learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, and perspective-taking. As a result, recovering addicts can reach greater self-awareness and self-regulation and improve stress-coping mechanisms.

Mindfulness is incorporated in such important aspects of addiction recovery as psychotherapy and self-help support groups. While mindfulness allows recovering addicts to reconnect and manage with their feelings and emotions, traditional therapies (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy) help them change their unhealthy patterns.

Where to Seek Help?

If you, your family member, or friend is struggling with alcohol or drug use disorder, there is a solution. There are hundreds of rehabs in the country that offer evidence-based treatment and have trained support staff. 

Everyone can get treatment, even those who have limited financial resources. Non-profit, state-funded, and some faith-based centers provide free addiction help. Just make some inquiries and search the web for “free rehab near me”. 

Don’t procrastinate with getting treatment. Addiction has many dreadful consequences. The sooner a person starts a journey to a sober life, the fewer losses they’ll have.