Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention: Does it Help Stop Drug Abuse?

mindfulness-based relapse prevention in california

Mindfulness is the human’s capacity and ability to be fully aware and present. From where we are, to what we are currently doing, this concept enables us to make sense of our surroundings, and the bodily sensations that we experience. In the process of being mindful, we even become aware of the nuances of our feelings and thoughts, which makes it easier for us to make decisions that are beneficial for our emotions and physical health. 

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Harnessing this ability of awareness and self-control, practicing mindfulness in addiction recovery situates people into a healthier mindset. By being in the moment, recovering individuals are able to overcome drug cravings and repeating bad habits. This cognitive approach was recently established in the treatment space as mindfulness-based relapse prevention.


What is mindfulness-based relapse prevention?

Mindfulness-based relapse prevention is an approach specifically for people who have finished treatment but worry about spiraling back into addiction. It is a treatment approach developed in the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, for a more holistic recovery, and
to counter relapse and withdrawal symptoms. The primary goals of mindfulness-based relapse prevention are to:

  • Develop awareness about triggers of negative habits.
  • Discover techniques to create controllable moments for negative thoughts that come automatically.
  • Shift our disposition towards discomfort.
  • Learn to recognize physical challenges and emotional troubles.
  • Teach us how to respond to hurdles in recovery in skillful ways.
  • Nurture an open and compassionate approach towards ourselves and our experiences; often, recovering individuals choose to perceive themselves in a punishing way.
  • Build, not just an effective coping mechanism, but a lifestyle that supports both mindfulness practice and recovery.


How does mindfulness-based relapse prevention work?

Mindfulness-based relapse prevention functions through harnessing awareness and bodily sensations. The technique works by allowing the individual to process his or her emotions and feelings slowly, but surely, to not give in to accustomed habits and responses. If we would imagine how drug addiction works, it makes people seek illicit drugs and take them, immediately after the cravings start. The mind of a person with substance abuse disorder is hardwired into this dangerous cycle, especially if self-control and mindfulness are scarce. 

To be specific, mindfulness is taught to people in the post-treatment phase of inpatient rehabilitation. Through mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), health professionals assist patients in reconditioning their way of thinking. Instead of simply avoiding and surviving the daily pains of substance cravings and relapse, the therapy teaches people to accept what they feel, and respond to it in a proactive way.

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Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) often include teaching the following, but is not limited to:

  • Visualization of negative thoughts
  • Processing of emotions


How does it help stop addictive behaviors and substance abuse?

Although it may seem that mindfulness relapse prevention is simply mental training, it actually also affects the decision-making and outlook of people. From daily struggles to a change in lifestyle, this approach focuses on long-term recovery and reintegration of individuals back to communities. In addition,
as long-term recovery is a challenge to begin with, employing mindfulness allows them to strengthen other aspects of their lives, which diverts attention away from drugs, alcohol, and other addictive substances.

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The following are specific ways mindfulness helps stop addictive behaviors:

  • Increase in focus on other hobbies and interests. By being mindful, we can motivate ourselves to do positive and productive things that would occupy most of our time.
  • Proactivity in seeking alternative activities. We become more present, and take action physically, if we experience relapse tendencies, by diverting our attention to more significant routines (e.g. exercise, reading).
  • A deeper sense of purpose towards recovery. When we become mindful, we also remember why we started detoxification and treatment. We ask whether it is worth it to give in to relapse after all that we’ve been through. 
  • An increase in hope and strength to fight urges. Mindfulness goes beyond mental techniques but also changes our outlooks in life.
  • More frequent moments to remember our loved ones and people who matter. Combining this to our enduring will to recover, a change in mindset indeed goes a long way.


Why you should consider the mindfulness-based approach to stop your substance abuse

The mindfulness-based approach gives a higher fighting chance to overcome relapse of intense chronic substance addiction. It is not simply a therapy, a medication, or treatment that subsides after a while, but it provides you a better lifestyle. Do you want to live your life every day, hardly resisting drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol? Mindfulness allows you to significantly turn your back on them, and help you live sober and productive while surrounded by your loved ones.

If you need more specific reasons why you should consider this approach, mindfulness-based relapse prevention for addictive behaviors tackles the four aspects of well-being that make us human:

  • Physical well-being. Mindfulness exercises involve body stretching, allowing us to feel every part of our body, from arms to legs. Being aware of bodily sensations also enables us to compartmentalize physical sensations (e.g. irritability due to relapse).
  • Mental well-being. Cognitive therapy assists us to process our thoughts, especially if it involves temptations to consume drugs and alcohol.
  • Emotional well-being. Prevention through mindfulness strengthens our emotional resilience and shifts our view of recovery into a more positive image.
  • Spiritual well-being. By being aware and having a sense of control, we may perceive recovery as a hopeful process, rather than a procedure we must endure. Meditation also connects us back to our mind, body, and soul.


Mindfulness Relapse Prevention in Long Beach

In seeking therapies and post-treatment support systems, you must seek trusted health professionals and rehab centers who understand your situation. In Long Beach, CA, there are a handful of treatment spaces that specialize in mindfulness-based relapse prevention. It is important to keep in mind that mindfulness can address emotional stress, no matter how trivial, and regardless of time since the last rehab treatment. To know the best fitting treatment option you may have to approach your trusted treatment center for an assessment.

mindfulness based relapse prevention for addictive behaviors

At Roots Through Recovery, we provide relapse prevention treatment. Our experienced clinicians do not focus solely on treatment, but also on providing ways to cope physically and emotionally for long-term sobriety. We believe that everyone deserves a productive and happy life.

If you or someone you know is seeking vicarious trauma treatment, get in touch with us today. Take the first step by visiting us at 3939 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 102, Long Beach, CA 90807 or giving us a call at 866-766-8776.

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