Mindfulness, an ancient technique of being aware of your present situation by paying attention to it, is increasingly showing benefits for both physical and mental difficulties. One of the recent benefits mindfulness has shown is in the area of addiction treatment. Experts are now beginning to think of it as a more effective treatment techniques for addiction.
How does it work?
One of the techniques used, other than mindful breathing, is to focus on the thoughts that comes to your mind without judging them.
- In addiction, the drinking or smoking is strongly associated to pleasure or relief. Thus the cravings that emerge are strong enough to keep the person in the habit.
- In mindfulness the person is made to pay attention to the thoughts and feelings of the cravings. The person will have to pay attention to not only the pattern of their thought but also to the body sensations. Many people realize that the whole process of drinking is not that pleasurable as it looked like. For example they would start paying attention to the taste and smell they get while drinking or smoking and realize that neither the taste nor the smell is a good one. This may look like a small thing but this small step will be the beginning of them questioning their habit and paving way towards recovery.
- Mindfulness based treatment programs works differently from the other recovery programs. While the other programs suggest the person to stay away from the situations or things that trigger the cravings, mindfulness helps the individual go through these triggers without being affected. It first allows the person to focus on their thinking pattern when craving. And then help them realize that what they were thinking is like a story and not the ultimate reality. It helps them realize that approaching the trigger does not necessarily mean you have to indulge in the habit but instead it makes you realize that you have a choice. A choice to indulge or not. When the person is aware of this choice they cease to be a slave to the craving, making it more easier for them to recover.
- Mindfulness can help reduce chances of relapse. Stress is one of the common factors for relapse and even to start an addiction. Mindfulness is know to reduce stress by helping the person relax and refreshed. It can also in some ways give them the relax state which an addict expect from their habit. It would not give the “high” state but it would surly help them feel re-leaved and relax. Even after the recovery if the person continues with mindfulness there are chances that they would be in a better position to deal with stress and thus reducing chances for relapse.
One of the reasons mindfulness is being successful as a treatment option for addiction is that, it allows the person to think and respond rather that react to the cravings. It makes them see the reality of those cravings that it is a matter of choice and they are not bound to follow them.
Mindfulness in a randomized clinical trial has seen to be better than the standard treatment programs but it may not work for everyone. Experts have suggested that it would work only if the person has the pre-disposed skills such as being non judgmental and accepting while focusing on thoughts and feelings, if a person lacks it would require a rigorous training for mindfulness to work. However, mindfulness has shown success with dependence of nicotine, cocaine and alcohol.