Using Mindfulness Strategies to Cope With Substance Abuse Cravings

While recovering from recurrent alcohol and other drug use is arguably one of the hardest challenges a person can take on, abstinence does not guarantee the absence of hardship. In other words, individuals will inevitably experience ongoing challenges in sobriety. Knowing what to expect and preparing for some of these challenges can help individuals to be proactive in their healing. More specifically, understanding the value of mindfulness strategies in sustaining recovery can be valuable for managing and overcoming cravings and other challenges as they surface in sobriety.

At 12 South Recovery, we recognize the power of holistic therapies – particularly mindfulness strategies – in complementing traditional treatments. Because of this, we implement both of these types of treatments in all of our client’s treatment plans. We focus on individualizing our client care to ensure that each individual’s unique needs and recovery goals are addressed in treatment. Furthermore, our whole-person, client-centered philosophy of caring helps clients attain total balance of the mind, body, and spirit in tandem to foster lasting addiction recovery.

The Value of Using Mindfulness Strategies in Addiction Recovery

According to NIH News In Health, mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment by bringing awareness to all that is happening. This includes what is happening internally pertaining to one’s thoughts and feelings as well as externally pertaining to one’s environment. A key aspect of mindfulness involves replacing judgment with curiosity to help an individual better understand their thoughts and feelings rather than challenge or avoid them.

Over the last several years, research has confirmed numerous benefits of using mindfulness strategies to bolster health and well-being. For example, as NIH News In Health explains, “Mindfulness-based treatments have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression” by helping individuals develop the ability to remain grounded in the present moment. Anxiety and depression often hijack an individual’s attention and cause them to focus solely on the past or future. Therefore, mindfulness strategies can help by curbing rumination, warding off intrusive thoughts, and easing other uncomfortable symptoms that often accompany these conditions.

Further, an article published in Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation notes that:

Scientific findings indicate that SUDs are driven by dysregulation of neural processes underlying reward learning and executive functioning. Emerging evidence suggests that mindfulness training can target these neurocognitive mechanisms to produce significant therapeutic effects on SUDs and prevent relapse.

Substance use cravings are commonplace in both early and long-term recovery. Fortunately, by teaching individuals how to focus their awareness and attention on their own thinking and thus limit any urge to act on impulse, mindfulness strategies can be especially effective in managing cravings. In a similar way, mindfulness strategies can provide a healthy form of distraction, which works because cravings typically subside within minutes.

Implementing Mindfulness Strategies in Daily Life

To effectively reap the benefits of mindfulness strategies in addiction recovery, it is essential to understand the strategies that are available as well as ways to practice them in daily life. There are many forms of mindfulness strategies, all of which have similar benefits in promoting awareness and curbing substance abuse cravings.

It is important to remember that it takes time and consistency to experience the benefits of any mindfulness practice. Therefore, it can be helpful to attempt a practice multiple times before expecting results.

Practicing Mindfulness Meditation

Perhaps the most well-known form of mindfulness is meditation. There are many types of meditation, yet mindfulness meditation is often the easiest for beginners. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), mindfulness meditation “involves maintaining attention or awareness on the present moment without making judgments” and focusing on the breath. To enhance the effectiveness of this practice, it is important to engage in mindfulness meditation in a quiet space that’s free from distractions.

Engaging in Guided Breathwork

Breathwork, or focused breathing, is another valuable mindfulness strategy known to enhance focus and, in turn, reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Similarly to meditation, there are many ways to engage in breathwork. Thousands of guided breathwork sessions are available on YouTube to help individuals embody a sense of peace while cultivating stress resilience. Additionally, many treatment facilities may offer guided breathwork sessions in therapy to hone in on other mindfulness-related skills.

Practicing Yoga

According to a review of studies by the Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice, the majority of studies addressing the effectiveness of yoga in treating substance use disorder (SUD) found yoga to be particularly effective in reducing both substance use and related cravings short-term. Yoga is a mindfulness strategy that combines physical movement with focused attention, particularly on the breath. Thus, using yoga in addiction recovery can promote the benefits of both mindfulness strategies and physical activity.

Using Mindfulness Strategies in Treatment at 12 South Recovery

At 12 South Recovery, we specialize in the treatment of SUD, other forms of substance abuse, mental health disorders, and co-occurring disorders. We know that recovery involves more than merely ceasing substance use. Rather, it demands an individual to foster wellness in all aspects of their life. Fortunately, mindfulness strategies can certainly assist with this.

All of our outpatient treatment programs incorporate a mix of holistic and traditional therapies into our client’s individualized treatment plans. No matter where an individual stands in their battle with substance abuse, we have the means to foster whole-person healing that will last a lifetime.

In addiction recovery, mindfulness strategies can help to strengthen your attention on the present moment. This awareness can serve as a distraction to substance abuse cravings and other symptoms that could potentially cause relapse. Through repetition, practicing mindfulness strategies can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression by promoting acceptance of your thoughts and feelings. At 12 South Recovery, we value mindfulness strategies and other holistic therapies as part of an effective treatment program. No matter where you stand in your journey to healing, we can help you implement mindfulness strategies in your daily life. These strategies will protect you from relapse and strengthen your recovery. Learn more about our treatment programs by calling (888) 830-8374 today.

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