Can Mindfulness Meditation Prevent Relapse?

Mindfulness meditation teaches people how to accept suffering as an experience that is normal for everyone. Relapse is a harsh reality of addiction. Fatal overdoses nearly doubled for people with addiction between 2015 and 2016. These are mainly opioid-related deaths. Everyone is trying to figure out how to support people with treatments, but mindfulness meditation keeps coming up as one of the best ways to provide the brain and body with support it needs to prevent relapse for people with addiction.

Tune Into Feelings

The idea of teaching people in recovery from addiction how to suffer may sound counter-intuitive. Addiction is not pretty much just suffering, it is a host of things. Learning how to suffering well, and that it is normal, can help people cope as they lean into those feelings within themselves to find a better way. Substance abuse is a complicated cycle. It is a vicious, complicated process that often reinforces itself by generating more suffering which people try to escape by using or drinking. Viewed in this way, teaching someone in recovery how to suffer makes sense.

Accepting Without Judgment

Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves accepting experiences without judgment, including negative experiences. Rather than aiming to empty the mind or think nothing, mindfulness asks only that the practitioner resist valuing certain thoughts and feelings over others. If a person engages in mindfulness meditation and worries about the fight they had, rather than pushing anxiety away, that could be honoring. Mindfulness does not ask to recognize the thought is there and it is uncomfortable, but he or she does not quantify the experience, so to speak. This is useful for people in addiction recovery because it allows them to understand suffering as something with an ending. It helps develop patience and perspective, two qualities often overridden by addiction.

Trauma and Mindfulness

Trauma lies in the body. When a person starts taking drugs, they feel more calm. When they stop taking drugs, there is a dual issue. One is withdrawal from the drug, the second is dealing with pain and trauma in the body. While medication-assisted treatments like methadone and buprenorphine have been proven effective at reducing cravings and correcting brain changes due to drug use, they don’t target traumatic responses. Mindfulness is a space where people learn to self-regulate the body’s systems. Becoming reacquainted with and reconnected to the body becomes a spaces where people are familiar with their bodies and it becomes the focus of treatment. In this way, mindfulness provides space that offers people another experience of how to live in their body and mind and support their journey of recovery, away from relapse triggers.

Getting into nature can help boost recovery. We provide space at The Last Resort for men to work on their inner recovery journey as well as the outer journey. We endeavor to provide a haven where you can journey through recovery feeling like your life and story have meaning and a purpose. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.