Personal triggers and stress are two of the principal causes of relapse for people with addiction issues. Although it may be easy for a recovering addict to avoid the places and people they associate with substance abuse, stress is much more difficult to ignore.
Stressors are events that cause stress or anxiety, and many of us are surrounded by them on a daily basis. Everyone has to deal with the uncertainties of life such as money, relationships, and job security. Add into the mix other stressors, even those as simple as traffic jams, missing buses or trains, or dealing with a demanding child and it is easy to see how many of us are constantly under attack from stress.
Some people deal with stress in healthy ways, choosing to take a long walk to clear their heads after a hard day or engaging in a pastime that relaxes them. However, others find it more difficult which can lead to them using drugs or alcohol to ease their symptoms. It is when people turn to substances for emotional reasons that they are at a high risk of developing dependence and ultimately, addiction.
Learning To Cope With Stress to Avoid Relapse
Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid stress forever and so it is vital that recovering addicts learn how to reduce their sensitivity to difficult circumstances and situations. Mindfulness is a holistic treatment is based on ancient practices designed to reduce stress in natural ways and there is now a considerable body of scientific evidence of its effectiveness in addiction treatment.
Evidence-based therapies such as CBT have also been shown to be very successful in treating addiction. CBT works by helping clients develop rational and positive thought processes so that they respond in healthy ways to stressors. When used in combination with a mindfulness practice such as meditation in a holistic treatment center, CBT is extremely valuable in relapse prevention for long-term recovery.
Ultimately, the objective of addiction treatment is to prepare individuals for living a substance-free life. This involves a large component of stress management which needs to be applied to an individual’s specific needs. Holistic treatments like mindfulness encourage a deeper level of self-exploration that increases self-awareness so that better choices are made when faced with stressful situations.
Being In the “Present Moment” With Holistic Treatment
Holistic therapies like mindfulness are essentially the practice of being present in the moment. Although this has become a familiar concept, many people still don’t fully understand what’s involved. Perhaps the best way of explaining mindfulness is by considering the internal dialogue we all have going on as a constant soundtrack to our day.
As we go about our daily business, the discussions we have with the people we encounter and the experiences we go through all promote thought processes we are either consciously aware of or not. Many of the thoughts we have may relate to events in the past or concerns about the future and all the while we are being subtly influenced in either a negative or positive way. Mindfulness and holistic therapies seek to silence this dialogue by replacing it with silence so that the person can just be in the moment without negative distractions.
How Mindfulness Is Practiced
Having established what mindfulness is, it is important to clarify how easily it can be practiced in everyday life. Although ideally, it is best to find a quiet space where you can focus on self-awareness, it is just as easy to practice mindfulness while you’re doing the dishes or taking a break from work.
A good way of shifting focus away from negative thought processes is by using an object like a piece of fruit or chocolate to practice mindful eating. Take the food in your hand and really focus on it, exploring it with all your senses to see how it feels to the touch and what it smells like. Then place it in your mouth and take note of how it feels on your tongue. Is the saliva building in your mouth? How does it feel when you sink your teeth into it? Are there any new taste sensations you notice?
Although this is a simple practice, it teaches us how to quiet our minds by focusing on the present moment. This is the same focus that’s required to achieve a meditative state as individuals explore the sensation of breathing deeply in and out to intricate detail. This is the basis of mindfulness as its used by holistic treatment centers and it works by shifting focus from negative thoughts to sensory experiences.
Mindfulness in Addiction Treatment
Substance use and abuse is an illness that is very much driven by negative thought processes. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of soothing symptoms of a mental illness such as depression or PTSD. Others develop the symptoms of a mental health condition as a direct result of abusing substances.
In both cases, substance abuse is generally being continued due to an individual’s inability to ignore the overwhelming cravings for drugs and alcohol that characterize addiction. Mindfulness goes a long way to restoring clarity for people who are seeking to overcome substance abuse and also serves as valuable relapse prevention in recovery. In essence, mindfulness allows recovering addicts to seize back control of their emotions, thoughts, and feelings which gives them a better chance of long-term recovery after attending a holistic treatment center.