Can You Overcome an Addiction Using Mindfulness?

Do You Have an Addictive Personality?

Many of us suffer from some form of addiction.  That may be alcohol addiction, drug addiction, internet addiction, nicotine addiction, or even coffee addiction.  There are as many addictions as there are things to be addicted to.  Can one overcome an addiction using mindfulness?

addict helpLately, I’ve been hearing stories coming out of some drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers that have turned to using mindfulness as a way to break the cycle. This goes for residential alcohol treatment as well as other outpatient substance abuse facilities.  Now, I’m not a therapist, but as a practitioner of mindfulness who has battled some addictions myself, I can see how mindfulness can be a powerful tool in overcoming these problems.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

These are probably the most harmful of all.  Alcohol and drug addiction ruin not only the lives of those with the addiction, but those around them as well.  It’s really important that those with the problem seek help to re-balance their lives.  There are good options available for those suffering.

For the most hardcore addictions, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers are a solid option. Residential alcohol treatment and drug treatment centers offer a supportive environment where those affected can get dedicated around the clock treatment.  There are also a variety of outpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers available as well.  Then, there’s the coveted 12-step programs and AA.

There’s a good resource here that covers alcohol abuse treatment options.

Also, check out this guy:

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Does Mindfulness Help With Substance Abuse?

Mindfulness puts you in the present moment.  It takes you out of whatever is bothering you and lets you live in the moment.  While our minds are usually in the past or future, worrying or fantasizing, or regretting or reminiscing, we are seldom naturally just observing what is happening in the moment.  That’s the point of mindfulness.

The problem with using mindfulness to combat hardcore alcohol and drug abuse is that substances are often used to take us away from the present moment.  When you’re using substances to take you away from your troubles, the present moment is where you’d notice how agitated you are.  Therefore, it can become really friggin hard to observe the present moment because you feel like crap and just want your fix.  This is the conundrum.  This is what makes mindfulness so powerful for treating substance abuse, or any addiction.

In observing the present moment, you’re forced to deal with things as they are.  This is powerful in that the more you deal with your agitated state, the easier it becomes to lessen it.  When it lessens, you are less inclined to seek escape through drugs, alcohol, or other addictions.  You spend time dealing with and mitigating the problem.  It breaks the cycle, or, better yet, creates a positive loop that brings you out of your addiction naturally.  It may actually get easier the more you practice.

This is difficult stuff, but it seems to be working for some people.  Another nice thing is that by practicing mindfulness and observing yourself, you become better able to tolerate yourself and your flaws.  In effect, you “forgive” yourself.  This works wonders for your self-esteem, which is a big factor in turning to substance abuse in the first place.

If you’re suffering from an addiction, learning how to do mindfulness meditation is certainly worth a look.