Can Mindfulness Therapy Help Treat Addiction?
Beating addiction is one of the most difficult things someone can face. Anyone that’s suffered (or suffers from) addiction knows that kicking the habit is daunting.
The issue with addiction is that it often attacks twofold. Meaning, it hurts us both physically and mentally.
Physical cravings can give way to mental desires, and vice versa. There’s no one true definition that decides when you’re addicted.
Those looking to beat their addiction will find plenty of options from conventional medical science. Take this pill for your detox. Try anti-depression medication.
It’s not that prescribing those treatments is inherently bad, in fact, they can often help. The issue arises from the various spectrums of addiction.
Sometimes modern medicine should step back and let the body heal itself. The phrase “mind over matter” rings true in this situation.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a strategy in holistic addiction treatment that embraces “mind over matter.”
If every feeling is a construct of your mind, then, theoretically, you can suppress any feeling.
Holistic Addiction Treatment: What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness treatment is the idea that becoming self-aware can help control addictive impulses.
“Living in the moment,” as some describe it, involves paying attention to the body’s cravings and discerning what emotions, sensations, and thoughts trigger addiction.
Sometimes people choose to focus on their “moment” with meditation, but day-to-day awareness works just as well.
For example, if you’re addicted to cigarettes, pay attention to what triggers your cravings to smoke.
Maybe it’s driving in the car that causes your urge to smoke. Maybe you only smoke when you’re stressed out.
Mindfulness pushes acceptance of these situations and emotions as “triggers.” Patients should strive towards acknowledging these triggers instead of reacting to them.
The Mindfulness Outcome
The end goal of mindfulness therapy is tolerating uncomfortable cravings by acknowledging them.
It’s sort of like facing problems head on, and then engaging in a form of impulse control.
Yes, you’re craving that drink because you just got home from work. However, you know the feeling is normal (for you) and is controllable.
Addicts that can separate addiction from their own psyche are able to recognize trigger stimuli, and eventually suppress their impulses.
As with any holistic addiction treatment, there are always skeptics. Though it’s becoming harder and harder to deny mindfulness therapy works.
Have you even seen people walk on hot coals, or sleep on a bed of nails? While not exactly mindfulness therapy, the underlying methodology is the same.
Those individuals are recognizing their reaction to stimuli, and then suppressing their urges (get off the coals and nails).
Western literature review has also found that mindfulness meditation positively correlates to successful substance abuse treatment.
If you’re an addiction treatment specialist, or know someone with an addiction, we urge you to research mindfulness therapy.
Yes, some holistic addiction treatment is pseudoscience, and we understand you are skeptical.
However, we’ve had great success using mindfulness therapy in conjunction with other treatments.
Simple “mind over matter” could save a life.
Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., MAADC II
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.