Mindfulness for Recovery

by Joe Gilmore

Hope and Recovery

While it can be cathartic, substance abuse treatment and therapy
can be a difficult thing to confront. It is something that requires a long,
honest look at yourself and your situation which can be a lot for some people
to come to terms with. 

This is where mindfulness and meditation can come into play.

Mindfulness practices, such as guided meditation, are one of the
key tools used during addiction
recovery treatment
to help patients overcome negative thoughts
contributing to, or causing, their substance abuse problems.

Meditation
and mindfulness
are powerful and can help a patient both
physically and mentally. Let’s take a closer look at specific ways that
meditation can improve life for those in addiction recovery.

5 Ways Mindfulness Can Help

  1. Improved Physical Health

Addiction to drugs and alcohol leads to numerous short- and long-term
physical health
problems. Some of these long-term issues include
liver and heart damage, potential kidney failure, increased chance of cancer,
and more.

However, practicing meditation and mindfulness exercises can help
with this and provide a number of benefits to overall physical health. For
example, it can:

  • Reduce the perception of physical pain
  • Improve immune functioning
  • Encourage better eating habits
  • Reduce chronic disease symptom severity
  • Improve quality of sleep and reduce insomnia

While sobriety will work to reverse the physical health problems
that began from using, meditation will assist your body in these efforts and
work in tandem with your sobriety. 

  • Enhanced Social Functioning

Addiction can strain the relationships between family and friends
as many people with substance abuse will fall into financial or legal trouble
due to their habits.

While sobriety will work to mend these relationships, meditation
can add another layer of support for improving social relationships and overall
day-to-day social functioning.

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Specific social benefits include:

  • Decreased social reactiveness and improved self-regulation
  • Increased empathy
  • Enhanced communication with friends and family
  • Lower levels of emotional stress
  • Improved aspects of interpersonal relationships
  • Improved Emotional State

Along with fixing social relationships with others, meditation
allows you to look deeper and regulate your own emotional state. 

Using drugs and alcohol
to excess
can lead to deep
emotional problems
like self-hatred, depressive symptoms, and
more, all of which can lead to self-injurous behavior and suicide
attempts. 

While sobriety can help to curb these dangerous thought processes,
meditation and mindfulness can help you overcome them. 

However, if you or someone you love is dealing with thoughts of
self injury or suicide, seek
professional help immediately
.

  • Increased Cognitive Ability

Abusing drugs and alcohol can lead to negative neurological changes
that impedes the ability to think clearly. While this will take time to remedy,
sobriety can reverse these problems.

Along with sobriety, meditative practices have also been shown to
help improve cognitive ability and performance.

Meditation has been shown to:

  • Improve attention and working memory
  • Increase learning behaviors
  • Enhance problem-solving and decision-making
  • Increase emotional regulation, improving thought clarity

Improving cognitive abilities will help patients think more
clearly when it comes to their sobriety and the negative effects substances can
have on their lives – a skill that can help with relapse prevention.

  • Improved Mental Health

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Along with improving cognition, mindfulness can help with mental
health in general. Some common mental health problems that people with
substance abuse deal with include depression,
anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.

When these issues occur alongside substance abuse, it is referred
to as a dual diagnosis. In order to treat either problem, you must treat both.

For serious issues like this, it is always best to seek the help
of an addiction professional or substance abuse treatment center with a dual
diagnosis program
, but there are still things that you can
implement in your life to help curb these problems, like meditation.

Meditation has been shown to help with mental illness in the
following ways:

  • Improving symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Lowering stress hormones, increasing relaxation
  • Reducing feelings of loneliness
  • Reducing self-criticism and self-hatred

While solving clinical mental health problems will likely require
more work and professional help, meditation can be a complimentary exercise.

Along with these 5 key benefits, meditation and mindfulness practices
have also been shown to help patients commit to their sobriety and aid people
in long-term
recovery
.

Real-World Example of Mindfulness

Drug and alcohol treatment centres around the
globe are putting meditation and mindfulness to use every day to help patients
achieve their goal of sobriety.

Recently an addiction rehab
in Arizona,
The Hope House, partnered with
Arizona State University
to bring additional
mindfulness and exercise
routines
to their patients.

While the patients at The
Hope House
are working to overcome alcohol and opioid
addiction
, professionals will guide them through
mindfulness exercises to better their mental and physical health.

While meditation can help virtually anyone, it can be especially important for those in addiction recovery to learn how to induce mindfulness, as it will lead to a longer and healthier life, free from substance


Joe Gilmore works for The Hope House, a luxury drug and alcohol rehab in Scottsdale committed to providing patients with the highest quality of care possible as we treat their addiction and any underlying problems.


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