Mindfulness can be a powerful therapeutic tool against addictions.
Addiction is a current problem that affects millions of people, so it is normal that a lot is invested in researching ways to curb it through various types of therapy.
Although there is no magic cure capable of eliminating the problem in a very short time and that works with optimal efficacy in all patients, promising forms of therapeutic intervention are emerging that do not have the disadvantage of side effects, typical of the use of psychotropic drugs .
Here we will see how Mindfulness, or Mindfulness, can help to deal with addictions with and without substance, and how they have a beneficial effect on the psychological state of patients with dependency problems.
What is Mindfulness?
First of all, let’s see what Mindfulness consists of, usually called by its name in English: Mindfulness. It is a set of practices based on vipassana meditation that has been developed through many years of scientific research by specialists in physical and mental health.
At the beginning of its existence (during the 70s), the main researcher on this topic, Jon Kabat-Zinn, used Mindfulness mainly to help people who needed help to regulate their stress levels, but as he has Over time it has been seen that Mindfulness is useful to address other types of problems, such as the one that concerns us here, addiction.
Thus, Mindfulness differs from what we normally understand as meditation in that it is not a practice linked to religion or mysticism (or what is the same, it is secular in nature), in that it has therapeutic purposes that can be objectively measured , and in that it has been designed so that it is systematized and that everyone performs these exercises following the same guidelines, so that it is easy to study through science the impact that this has on people’s well-being.
Mindfulness is increasingly popular because it has several advantages that we will see later, and this means that in recent years psychologists and health professionals in general have been incorporating this tool into their repertoire. That is why today there is a very active line of research dedicated to studying the benefits that Mindfulness brings in the treatment of people with anxiety, although this is not the only therapeutic application of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness applied to addictions
Now that we have seen even above what Mindfulness consists of, let’s look at the different ways in which it helps fight addictions.
1. Helps not give in to impulses
One of the characteristics of Mindfulness is that it affects the control of the person’s attention focus, that is, it helps them choose what type of stimuli or ideas and sensations they have to focus on at all times.
This is very important in resisting the temptation to use drugs or to indulge in the behavior that has generated the addiction (for example, gambling money), and allows us to look beyond those impulses and think more about the medium-term goals that include ensuring for their own health.
2. Helps focus on projects
When it comes to regaining good health and gaining control over their lives, addicted people find powerful allies in hobbies that allow them to take their minds off the routines that led them to become addicted again and again.
Mindfulness, combined with the existence of this type of hobbies or personal projects, allows you to focus on something that motivates the person and that makes it easier for them to commit to the process of leaving behind dependence on that harmful substance or habit. It helps you adopt a relatively neutral point of view in which you do not give in easily to outbursts when you know they are going to be harmful.
3. Keeps anxiety under control
Many people who have developed one or more addictions suffer greatly from withdrawal anxiety. Mindfulness can also cushion this discomfort, since it is designed, among other things, to regulate the state of activation of the nervous system.
Are you interested in learning to practice Mindfulness?
If you think that the time has come to take advantage of the potential of Mindfulness to overcome addictions and you would like to start in this practice or improve what you already know, we invite you to go to Centro Mindfulness Madrid, a leading entity in Madrid with regard to Full Attention and linked to the IPSIA Psychology therapy center.
We offer both courses and psychological intervention from the hand of professionals, so that you are able to improve your quality of life based on habits and practices that you can use on a day-to-day basis, in a wide variety of situations. You can see our contact details by clicking here.
American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Garland, EL & Howard, MO (2018). Mindfulness-based treatment of addiction: current state of the field and envisioning the next wave of research. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2018; 13 (1): 14.
Kauer, JA; RC Malenka (2007). Synaptic plasticity and addiction. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 8 (11): pp. 844-58.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2009). Mindfulness in everyday life. Wherever you go there you are. Barcelona: Paidós.