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The Importance of Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a chronic, relapsing neuropsychiatric disorder. The Mayo Clinic explains addiction as a disease “that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication” without regard for consequence. Relapse is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), “as the recurrence of behavioral or other substantive indicators of active disease after a period of remission.” Addiction is a mental health condition that compels an individual to prioritize satisfying his or her substance cravings above all else. This can wreak havoc in all facets of one’s life, causing a plethora of adverse effects, including physiological complications, relationship fractures, financial strain, legal challenges, employment issues, and more. The development of substance use disorder does not occur immediately, nor will recovering from addiction be achieved instantaneously. 

What Is Mindfulness?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” Although there are several disciplines and practices (e.g., yoga, tai chi, qigong, etc.) that can cultivate mindfulness, most of the literature and empirical data illustrating the benefits of mindfulness in addiction recovery has focused on mindful meditation. Recent evidence suggests that meditation may reduce the consumption of alcohol, cocaine, and amphetamines. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health meditation is a mind-body activity intended to promote relaxation, help people cope with illnesses, and improve well-being. Research indicates that mindfulness practices lead to an increase in the production of theta and alpha waves, which are the brain wave frequencies associated with enhanced learning abilities and overall mental well-being. One study concluded that meditation practices are directly correlated to “changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.” Stress is a common trigger for addictive behaviors, and there have been studies that indicate the tranquility effects of practicing mindfulness can be directly correlated to a reduction in one’s stress levels. Embracing mindfulness can be beneficial to the addiction recovery process as it is known to reduce the risk of relapse.

For Information and Support 

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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