Mindfulness for Addiction Recovery

At Step By Step Recovery we offer a very holistic approach to addiction treatment within our South Essex rehab, The Lighthouse.

We wholeheartedly believe in the therapeutic and healing properties of mindfulness and mindful fitness. We are blessed to be situated just a 2 minute walk from the beautiful, sandy beach of Southend-on-sea, where we not only enjoy fun days and BBQs, but also take our clients for walks, whilst practicing mindful fitness.

The beauty of mindfulness is that it can be practised anywhere and during many activities and exercise. It is a proven and powerful healing therapy technique, used to treat many mental health illnesses, including addiction. Mindfulness can also assist in relieving pain-related conditions; ideal for those that are looking for safe alternatives to opiate painkillers.

Brief History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a type of meditation that has been practiced by many different religious and spiritual groups for centuries. It was introduced by Christians as part of their religious commitment. Monks further adapted it and still regularly practice this type of meditation on a daily basis.

Today, the benefits of mindfulness have been realised by many; it is still practiced by religious and spiritual groups, but is now a recognised treatment for mental health and stress related conditions. Mindfulness can be practised be anyone, religious or non-religious, spiritual or not. Yoga has historically used mindfulness principles and practice since its first began.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that stills the mind and body and focuses the individual on the here and now. This is achieved through the individual focusing on, and becoming aware of, their own bodily sensations. It is very simple to learn and easy to practice on your own or within a group.

Mindfulness focuses on what the body is experiencing during meditation; through the breath and in the present moment. It helps to calm and declutter the mind and relax the body. It is scientifically and medically proven to be helpful in treating alcohol, drug, or behavioural addictions.

Mindfulness is an ideal introduction to mediation due to its simplicity and flexibility. Thoughts are observed by the individual practicing mindfulness, but no attachment is made to them.

Through regular practise the individual can learn to let thoughts go by, without engaging. This is especially helpful to any individual who suffers from negative, unhealthy, erratic or obsessive thinking.

It can also be used to relax the individual and assist with alleviating aches and pain in the body related to tenseness, stress and detox.

What Is Mindful Fitness?

Step By Step Recovery use the healing powers of mindfulness during light exercise. With regular walks on the beach, our clients can experience being present; focusing on the sound of the sea and the sensations in their body, from the sand under their feet and the fresh sea breeze in their face. Our Yoga sessions also focus on mindfulness and breathing and the art of “letting go”

Mindful fitness can be practiced during any repetitive and mild to moderate exercise, such as: walking, jogging, pilates, yoga, swimming and using machines at the gym.

Please note that it is not safe to practice mindfulness whilst driving a vehicle. Mindfulness can relax you and focus your attention elsewhere, other than the task of driving and the vigilance required to remain safe on the roads.

The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation for Addiction Recovery

Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Fitness offer many benefits to any individual who practices it regularly. Here are just some of the benefits to be gained:

  • Mindfulness centres your attention inwardly and on your body, rather than on the outside material world
  • It helps to slow and regulate breathing
  • It assists in decluttering the mind and achieving inner peace and stillness
  • Mindfulness helps to calm and still the mind
  • It can be used as a helpful introduction to other methods of meditation
  • It is flexible, and with practise, anyone – regardless of age or mental and physical health, can reap its benefits
  • With regular practice, it has been proven medically and scientifically to help rewire the brain’s pathways and break negative, unhelpful and obsessive thought patterns
  • It can assist with the recovery from a vast number of mental health disorders
  • Mindfulness relaxes the body and eases tension in the muscles, reducing aches and pains
  • Mindfulness reduces drug cravings
  • Mindfulness assists with motivation and discipline
  • It helps the individual to learn how to self care and self sooth

Mindfulness is particularly helpful to those that are detoxing and encourages spiritual growth and progression towards overall well being.

What Does Mindfulness Treat?

Step By Step Recovery use the holistic practise of mindfulness to treat our clients at our Lighthouse rehab – suffering from addiction and its common co-occurring mental health illnesses, including:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Drug addiction
  • Substance abuse and dependence
  • Behavioural or process addictions, such as gambling, internet, gaming, sex, love, spending and codependency
  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic attacks and Panic disorder
  • Hypervigilance resulting from PTSD and Trauma
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
  • Eating Disorders – Mindfulness can be incorporated into eating to assist with recovery
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Helps our clients to stop revisiting the past and projecting into the future, by staying in the here and now

Mindfulness is very flexible and easy to learn. We hope that by introducing it regularly to our clients that they will continue to incorporate it into their recovery back home.

How Does Mindfulness Treat Addiction?

Mindfulness is extremely helpful in treating addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that manifests in negative, destructive, unhelpful and obsessive thought patterns. These thought patterns turn into compulsions and the maladaptive behaviours that feed addiction.

Mindfulness helps to observe thoughts and discard them if they are unhelpful. It also helps the individual to learn ways of self soothing and calming the mind.

Mindfulness increases self awareness and helps our clients to discover and connect to their true authentic self; away from the stresses and worries related to the outside material world.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

With repetition and exposure to anything, the human brain undergoes chemical changes that adapt to accept it. Whether it is something beneficial or harmful, the brain does not distinguish between the two.
Making mindfulness a habitual part of your daily life in recovery, will gift you with the aforementioned benefits. The more time you dedicate to mindfulness, the more self aware you will become and self calming will become second nature.

The brain will learn to seek out this new found soothing skill, rather than resort to seeking out alcohol, drugs or a mood altering addicted behaviour.

Essentially, you will regain control over compulsive thoughts, as the brain’s neural pathways rewire to seek healthier methods of coping with emotions and events. In order to achieve this, you will need to be committed to practicing mindfulness regularly.

If you have any further questions on how mindfulness or any other inpatient treatment that we offer can help you, please do not hesitate to contact us.