How Does Mindfulness Meditation Help Prevent Relapse?
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How does mindfulness meditation help prevent relapse? After doing all of the work of going through detox and treatment for addiction, there is wisdom in planning to prevent a relapse. While there are many different techniques that you can learn to help you at the moment and daily efforts that you can make to help prevent relapse, mindfulness meditation can help in both crisis and long-term prevention.

The Importance of Preparing for Relapse Prevention

First, it is important to understand that relapse prevention is not like ordering a coffee at Starbucks. Planning and preparing to prevent relapse gives you the best chances for success when stressors or triggers come. Daily routines give you a certain amount of protection against relapse, and then there are emergency tools you can use at the moment when you are tempted to relapse.

During treatment, you will learn some of the fundamentals of relapse prevention. As you continue to attend meetings and learn more about your recovery, you will practice and learn more about relapse prevention skills and strategies so that you will be prepared when the cravings hit. The more you practice these techniques, the more prepared you will be and the less likely you will be to relapse.

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is a specific form of meditation in which you are focused entirely on what is happening in the moment without using emotions or judgment. This state is realized through guided relaxation and breathing, which are helpful not only to cleanse the mind and body and help connect them and help them focus on being present, free from distractions.

You are then guided to notice only the sensations you are experiencing at that moment, without judgment. This process creates a synergy of mind, body, and spirit while at the same time removing the typical thoughts and cares, past experiences, emotions, and judgments to help you simply be in the present moment. While mindfulness meditation obviously does not make all of your problems go away, it does take you away from your problems for the moment, which allows you to return to reality with relaxation, calmness, and focus.

How Mindfulness Strengthens the Mind

Mindfulness has been used successfully for many years to help strengthen the mind, but science is just beginning to understand why it actually works. In a study published in Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation in 2018, researchers noted some specific and measurable benefits that come directly from practicing mindfulness meditation:

  • Using “mind over matter”: Scientifically speaking, promoting cognitive control over automaticity. Mindfulness teaches you to use your own cognitive control rather than just give in to impulse or habitual responses. When you practice mindfulness, you are helping strengthen and train your mind.
  • Restructuring rewards: Specific guided mindfulness activities can actually help to cultivate attention on natural rewards, which helps to restructure the dysregulated reward system caused by substance use. 
  • Stress reduction: Mindfulness has produced measurable reductions in stress as measured by specific heart rate data and brain activity monitoring. By reducing your stress levels, you also reduce your risk of relapse due to stress-related triggers.
  • Intervention: Mindfulness helps increase mind-body awareness. This helps specifically with substance abuse in helping you to become aware of when, why, and how much you may be using substances, thus giving you more power to intervene and abstain from your own substance use. By increasing self-awareness and self-regulation, you have more control over your consumption of substances.

Why Mindfulness Meditation Is Used in Relapse Prevention

Strengthening the mind offers relapse prevention, as you will have fewer cravings the more you practice mindfulness meditation. By decreasing your levels of stress and your reactivity to emotions, you lower your instances of risk of relapse. Additionally, when those moments of intense emotion and stress do arrive and threaten to derail your recovery, you are able to use mindfulness meditation to help you get through them without relapsing.

Mindfulness can help you become more aware of cravings and triggers and give you the tools to overcome them. By increasing your self-awareness, you are able to notice in advance when something may trigger you and then plan to avoid it. You may also be more aware and be able to catch a craving when it first hits. By using mindfulness immediately, you use the power of your own mind to overcome the momentary difficulty.

Mindfulness meditation can be a powerful tool in relapse prevention, proactively strengthening your mind and awareness and in those crisis moments to help you manage triggers and cravings and get through them without relapsing.

How does mindfulness meditation help prevent relapse? Mindfulness meditation helps to strengthen the mind by giving you more strength and control over your mind, lowering your stress levels, and giving you more self-awareness. You can also use mindfulness to help you avoid triggers and manage cravings to maintain your recovery. We understand the importance of planning for relapse prevention. We help you learn mindfulness meditation so that you will have this powerful tool to strengthen your mind and help prevent relapse. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women offers detox and residential treatment for women with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our Costa Mesa, California, facility is a peaceful refuge for healing located between calming mountains and sunny beaches. You already have the tools inside you to achieve sobriety. We help you use them. Contact us at (714) 581-3974 today to begin your healing.