Mind(fulness) Over Matter

Mistakes can be haunting, can’t they? Especially the mistakes of drug and alcohol abuse in the mind of one who struggles with mental trauma. Like a never-ending movie reel, playing over and over again in your mind’s eye, your mistakes become an ever-present reminder of just how much you have failed, who you’ve let down, and how you’ve been hurt. Its never as easy as “Mind Over Matter” allows us to believe, is it?

You may find yourself caught up in the “what if’s” of the past, trapped in analysis paralysis, instead of being able to look to the “what could happen” of the future. The battle of the past memories have you trapped between who you are, who you could be and the things you can never change. That’s the hook right there – the past you can never change.  Those who struggle with substance abuse and addiction generally don’t need anyone to tell them what a “bad person” they are – they tell themselves numerous times on a daily basis.

For this very reason, the practice of Dual Diagnosis has been revolutionizing the addiction recovery industry. By acknowledging that there is not only a physical struggle with addiction, but also giving an awareness to the mental healing that is needed, patients in treatment are able to  get off the mental “hamster wheel” and reach a deeper level of themselves to unlock true healing. Enter the process of Mindfulness in the addiction recovery treatment program.

What is Mindfulness and How Does it Impact Recovery?

Mindfulness is the process of having an active awareness of your present feelings, processing them at face value and viewing them as triggers, not as shame. This self-awareness practice allows patients to create habits around “Living in the Moment” – allowing themselves to consciously consider what they are feeling, instead of self-medicating past the emotion.

Through the practice of Mindfulness, patients in treatment are allowing themselves to feel through the emotion, quite possibly for the first time. For those in recovery, this means developing a better way to regulate emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness introduces the concept of what it truly means to be “triggered” and how to identify the emotional and physical triggers that are rooted around their addiction.

What are Mindfulness Practices?

Through mindfulness, people develop the ability to take a “personal pulse check”, determine their own individual level of balance and take action to prevent relapse or other negative experiences from happening. It is a self-empowering tool that promotes self-acceptance while decreasing stress levels, making the recovery process easier to manage.

Most important to practicing Mindfulness in Recovery is the ability to avoid being carried away by negative thoughts or feelings. Meditation is a helpful practice that allows those in recovery to take a pause and increase their own emotional intelligence – managing both themselves and their relationships in a healthier way.

Methods of Mindfulness

Mindful meditation offers numerous health benefits that include:

  • Ability to Manage Yourself: Becoming more “in tune” mentally and emotionally gives you more control with what is happening physically. The signs are easily recognizable when something “isn’t right”, allowing you to take the self-preservation steps necessary to keep your recovery on track.
  • Ability to Manage Stress: Focusing on the present allows you to identify what you can control and let go of what you cannot. Rather than spending time anticipating potential future problems, stress is more easily managed.
  • Balanced Immune System: High levels of stress can negatively affect the immune system. Couple that with a practice of coping by substance and it’s no wonder your body couldn’t heal. Mindfulness keeps a body strong by putting positive resources in and keeping negative influences at bay.
  • Overall Emotional Comprehension: Rather being consumed by emotional actions, improved awareness allows a person to make better decisions without letting negative thoughts lead them astray. Additionally, meditation allows for the “catch and release” of emotion. Receive it, acknowledge it, and let it go. Thoughts and feelings will become identifiably passing and better understood.
  • Ability to Seek Help: Having an awareness of your triggers and emotions can also help those healing from addiction to know when to say “I’m not okay. I need help. I need to talk.” By practicing Mindfulness in your treatment, you will be able to alert your support network to your needs and overcome the hurdles in your path.

By integrating the practice of Mindfulness in your recovery, you can successfully change the course of your mental health, putting a stop to the never-ending memory reel of your mistakes. Hope is real, recovery is possible and a lifetime of new memories are waiting to be made.

About The Contributor
Lindsey Simpkins
Senior Training Manager, American Addictions Admissions Center
Lindsey Simpkins is a seasoned learning and development professional with more than 13 years of experience in adult learning, including instructional design, facilitation, talent assessment, leadership development and organizational development.... Read More