Tips for Staying Mindful During Addiction

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When you have tough times with opioid addiction or another substance use disorder, it helps to practice coping skills and take steps to ground yourself. There is increasing evidence that mindfulness is an effective self-help tool during recovery. Discover the benefits of mindfulness for addiction recovery and how you can use it during challenging times.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of awareness and acceptance of the present. The practice of awareness involves focusing on your present experiences, thoughts and feelings. You can then observe, recognize and ultimately accept the thoughts you have about the present moment. Together, awareness and acceptance can help you regain perspective on your feelings and thoughts.

How Does Mindfulness Help With Addiction Recovery?

Research suggests that mindfulness could help people with addiction recover because it changes key brain processes that can contribute to addiction. As addiction happens, it alters the brain’s structure and activity, resulting in physical and emotional symptoms. Evidence shows that mindfulness could reverse these effects by:

  • Restructuring your reward system: Addiction shifts your brain’s reward system to value drug-related rewards over its natural rewards. Mindfulness can help switch this balance back, helping you enjoy the things you used to.
  • Improving self-control: Practicing mindfulness can help improve your executive function — the processes behind your ability to control your behavior. By boosting these functions in your brain, mindfulness may increase your ability to control yourself when you experience cravings.
  • Strengthening your stress coping mechanisms: Mindfulness seems to improve stress reactivity and recovery, making it useful for coping with tough situations. When you can control your reaction to stress more effectively, you can feel less tempted to use in response to stress.

How Can I Stay Mindful During Tough Times With Opioid Addiction?

When recovery from addiction gets difficult, you can try simple mindfulness techniques to refocus your thoughts and better understand your feelings. Simple ways to stay mindful include:

  • Focus on the present moment: Many people in recovery find themselves trying to avoid the present due to stress. By focusing on your present thoughts and feelings, you can manage difficult thoughts more effectively and live in the moment.
  • Acknowledge and challenge negative thoughts: When you have a self-detrimental thought, you might confuse it with reality without realizing it. By acknowledging negative thoughts as just thoughts, you can challenge your negative perceptions.
  • Concentrate on your breathing: Stress can make you feel overwhelmed. When these feelings happen, try breathing in and out slowly while focusing on each breath to break the thought cycle.
  • Find time for yourself: Activities like meditation, exploring nature and being creative allow you to exist in the moment. Find a self-reflective hobby that will help you promote a sense of stillness.

Get Recovery Support at BAART Programs

An addiction treatment center can help you with recovery by providing the support and medical care you need. To begin opioid addiction treatment, find a BAART Programs clinic near you.

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