MINDFULNESS IN ADDICTION AND RELAPSE PREVENTION 21
Mindfulnessin Addiction and Relapse Prevention
Mindfulnessin Addiction and Relapse Prevention
Issuespertaining to addiction have been extremely controversial in thecontemporary human society. Needless to say, addiction has primarilybeen examined from the lens of drugs and alcohol, in which case theseare the forms of addictions on which treatment strategies have beenbased. Nevertheless, other forms of addiction have been examined andexplored in the recent times including sex addiction. This hasresulted in the provision of the ultimate definition of addiction tounderline chronic relapsing condition, where relapse underlines theprocess by which an individual goes back to a problematic andaddictive behavior after a period of moderation or abstinent.Needless to say, numerous efforts have been made towards coming upwith a form of treatment or rehabilitation that would allow forsuccessful prevention of relapse. One of the most popular techniqueshas been the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which underlines apsychotherapeutic approach that aims at addressing maladaptivebehaviors, dysfunctional emotions, as well as contents via variedexplicit and goal-oriented systematic procedures. Cognitivebehavioral therapy is problem focused as it deals with particularproblems, as well as action oriented where a therapist attempts tohelp his or her clients to choose particular strategies that would behelpful in addressing the addiction. This technique aims atcontrolling behaviors and individuals reaction to particularsituations so as to prevent relapse. As much as the cognitivebehavioral therapy has been shown to be extremely effective in thetreatment of different conditions such as personality, psychoticdisorders, and even substance abuse, research has shown that close to90% of addicts relapsed and went back to their addictions within thefirst year (Miklowitz et al, 2009). It is undeniable that thecognitive behavioral theory alongside intensive research has offeredpsychiatrists and clinicians with new interventions and ideas thatwould be helpful in lowering the relapse rates, yet these advanceshave been unsuccessful in eliminating relapse.
Thisis essentially what gave rise to Mindfulness-based technique ofrelapse prevention. Mindfulness underlines a deliberate,present-moment and nonjudgmental awareness pertaining to the fullrange of the ongoing experiences such as emotions, events, sensationsand thoughts. It simply involves the observation and acceptance oflife as it is in the present moment. Mindfulness-based relapseprevention technique integrates the mindfulness-meditation practiceswith the cognitive behavioral relapse prevention skills such as theidentification of high-risk situations and training individuals withcoping skills, with the technique having the retention of mindfulnessas its fundamental goal (Miklowitz et al, 2009). Mindfulnesspractices incorporated in this technique are aimed at enhancing theawareness of the internal cognitive, external triggers and affectivepractices, enhance the capacity of a patient to tolerate challengingphysical, affective and cognitive experiences and enhance themetacognitive capacities of the clients.
Ofparticular note is the basis of the mindfulness based relapseprevention of MBRP technique. Scholars have acknowledged that thereis a connection between the probability that an individual is goingto relapse and the negative affect and craving. Negative affectunderlines the negative subjective and evaluative feeling state thatan individual experiences in response to external and internalstimulus. Numerous neurobiological studies have been carried out todetermine the roles of negative affect and craving in the predictionof outcomes of addiction treatment. A large proportion of thesestudies have identified variations in the brain functioning andstructure that predicts craving, negative affects and relapse statesin individuals who have addictive disorders. There are varied reasonswhy negative affect comes as a crucial trigger in relapse. First,researchers have determined that a large number of clients credittheir relapse to negative emotions and interpersonal stress. Theseretrospective reports have been confirmed by prospective clinicalstudies that show that the level of post-treatment stress has apositive connection to relapse to alcohol addiction. Further,research has shown that persistent pairing f drinking and negativeaffect may cause the later to elicit conditioned desires to engage inthe former. Indeed, laboratory paradigms that examine cue reactivityshow that among heavy drinkers, self-reported negative moods prior toexposure to alcohol cues were predictors of the degree of reactivity. Similar studies have shown that negative affect inductionprior to smoking cues heighten the desire to smoke, as well as thenumber of cigarettes that an individual takes.
Onthe same note, studies have shown that individuals engage in alcoholconsumption and negative affect as a way of emotional avoidance.Indeed, the conditioned relationship between drinking and negativeaffect may emanate from persistent usage of substances as a techniquefor avoiding negative affect. Experiential avoidance underlines theattempts to change the frequency and form of the unpleasant statesthrough the distortion and ignoring of emotions, thoughts, memoriesand bodily sensations. This has been seen as extremely frequent amongindividuals who have psychiatric disorders (Miklowitz et al, 2009).Testament to the fact that the substance abusers are essentiallyattempting to avoid negative affect is the fact that almost allsubstances alter the subjective state of an individual, not tomention that substance abusers often believe in the transformingeffects than others. In general, the need to avoid unpleasant statescoupled with the inevitability of undergoing negative affect mayresult in repeated pairings of substance use and negative affect,which results in conditioned responses in form of automaticcognitions and urges to use when one experiences similar emotionalcues (Miklowitz et al, 2009). In essence, a primary problem in theprevention of relapse revolves around how one would deal with theconditioned relationships especially considering the ubiquitypertaining to negative affect. Decoupling the substance use andnegative affect seems to be a general strategy for changing theconditioned associations. These aims would be achieved through theuse of strategies that are yet to be incorporated in the traditionalcognitive behavioral therapies. Indeed, the recognition and dealingwith emotional avoidance has unequivocally been incorporated intherapies like dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance andcommitment therapy, as well as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.However, questions have been raised regarding the effectiveness andefficacy of mindfulness-based relapse prevention.
Examinationof Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulnesspractices incorporated in Mindfulness-based Relapse prevention areaimed at increasing the level of awareness of the internal cognitive,external triggers and affective processes, enhance the capacity ofthe client to tolerate challenging physical, affective and cognitiveexperiences, as well as increase the metacognitive abilities of theclient. Mindfulness meditation incorporates an attitude of acceptanceto inevitable distractions occurring when an individual stays still.Even in instances where the client is undergoing a distractingthought or unpleasant emotion, he or she would be capable ofinvestigating or observing the experience rather than trying to avoidor suppress it. Of particular note is the fact that the acceptancedoes not involve resignation or passivity when an individual is facedby strong affective states. Instead, it underlines the aspect ofbeing fully present with although not preoccupied with the states asthey take place. It is noted that via the interplay of concentratingon an object, acknowledgement and acceptance of distractions, as wellas gently returning one’s focus to the breath, the individual wouldlearn not to take thoughts and emotions on the face value as factsbut as mental events. This underlines the fact that mindfulnessmeditation has the capacity to alter the manner in which one relatesto negative affect and dysfunctional thoughts, instead of trying toeliminate or modify the states themselves. Scholars have called thistechnique for relating to emotions and thoughts as cognitivedistancing or decentered perspective. Indeed, this capacity of anindividual to take a decentered perspective has been seen as afundamental skill in the prevention of the escalation ofdysfunctional thoughts, as well as lowering emotional avoidance, inwhich case scholars have viewed it as a phenomenological correlate tothe process of mindfulness (Chawla et al, 2010).
Thecornerstone of mindfulness meditation is the fact that every emotionand thought would die or fade away in instances where it is notfueled by the emotional reactions and judgments of the individual whois experiencing them. It has well been acknowledged that the typicalreactions emanating that often arise include those of aversion to orcraving for certain things (Chawla et al, 2010). The detachedobservation coupled with mental reactions and suspended evaluationsdoes not promote the expression or suppression of emotions but ratherviews them in an impartial way, thereby enabling the individual todeal with the emotions in an appropriate manner. It allows client tohave the awareness of varied experiences without any attachment tothem. More often than not, the eradication of all aversions andcravings may appear like an impossible task, making an individualquestion such endeavor’s desirability when he or she sets out toundertake it. However, the recovering individual should initially aimat becoming free from his addictions and fears as they may behindrances to the real objectives of one’s life. Mindfulnessmeditation allows clients to modify their conditioned reactions intoactions that have their basis on free choice. Mindfulness has itscentral aim as freeing an individual from the restricting influencespertaining to strong emotions whether negative or positive.
Onthe same note, mindfulness meditation has its foundation on theassumption that an individual’s mind incorporates a naturalcapability to undo stress and that this capacity is controlled byparticular homeostatic mechanisms. The homeostatic mechanisms areusually triggered in the course of meditation when patients becomelinked to their inner states through having an awareness to theirinner body sensations. They may, for instance, become aware of theirurge to smoke or consume drugs before such urges are manifested inform of behaviors and thoughts. In essence, mindfulness functions asa precognitive level that assists clients in dealing with theirstrong emotions such as aversions and cravings through the use ofcertain cognitive strategies, including the comprehension of everyexperience in terms of transitoriness without identifying with them.This enables clients to become considerably detached to from theactions of their minds. With its origins being Chinese Buddhatraditions, mindfulness conventions hold the belief that all humansuffering has its root cause in individual’s strong aversions andcravings emanating as a result of their ignorance of their inabilityto perceive reality as it is (Chawla et al, 2010). They would havethe capacity to see reality in a more accurate manner if their mindsare equanimous or deficient of strong emotions at the time of theperception. Without this, the perception would be colored by theirfantasies, fears, desires and emotions. There exists a highlikelihood that addicts reacts more to their own fantasized imagesthat are projected on to individuals and not to themselves (Miklowitzet al, 2009). Mindfulness allows patients to free their minds fromall the distorting influences, thereby achieving a state ofequanimity or neutrality of mind.
Testamentto the increased efficacy of mindfulness is empirical evidenceregarding mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-basedcognitive therapy, which are primarily composed of mindfulnessmeditation (Miklowitz et al, 2009). Mindfulness practices primarilyconsist of light yoga stretches and sitting meditation, which,studies have shown to significantly reduce symptoms for participantswho have anxiety disorders and who have completed the program.Indeed, the MBSR program has also gained wide adaptation andapplication to the treatment of binge eating disorder. A treatmentoutcome study that examined binge frequency and mood for around 6weeks after the program indicated considerable gains in comparison topretreatment evaluation.
Inaddition, mindfulness has been used in the prevention of relapse fordepression in interventions referred to as Mindfulness-basedcognitive therapy. According to cognitive models of depression,events that trigger transient dysphoric mood after recovering fromdepressive episodes may enhance the risk for the reoccurrence ofdepression (Teasdale et al, 2002). The heightened vulnerability takesplace simply because dysphoric mood triggers dysfunctional processingmodes, in which the resultant experiences and meanings may escalateinto clinical depression states. In an effort to prevent relapse,psychological interventions for depression must lower the possibilityof dysfunctional processing modes and facilitate the disengagement ofthe attentional processes that prop depressive informationalprocessing. In the achievement of this goal, MCBT offers intensivetraining on mindfulness that promotes a nonliteral decenteredrelationship to the negative feelings and thoughts.
HowMindfulness Meditation Works
Scholarshave acknowledged that urges to consume drugs and other substancesoccur for long periods of time. Indeed, they almost never last beyond30 minutes in instances where the individual does not have theopportunity to consume the substance. In such instances, no internalstruggle would exist. Of particular note is the fact that internalstruggles feed the cravings, in which case fighting them wouldessentially be feeding the cravings. Mindfulness allows for theenhanced attention to the urges, cravings and impulses withoutnecessarily succumbing to them, in which case they simply fade away.Indeed, any attempt that is made to talk oneself out of or distractoneself from such urges would only feed them and create theimpression (or illusion) that they are endless unless an individualgives in to them. The suppression of a sensation, pain or feelingwould end up increasing it. Mindfulness allows individuals to bypassthe problems relating to disputation and avoidance. Rather thanmaking attempts to argue or distract oneself from unpleasant urges,thoughts and feelings, mindfulness decreases the importance of theseurges, feelings and thoughts (Bowen & Marlatt, 2010). In essence,an individual would remain exposed to the urges and thoughts fortheir natural duration without necessarily repressing or feedingthem. This means allowing the feelings and urges to continue in anon-judgmental manner without fighting or feeding it until it passesor subsides. Of particular note is the fact that they often come backagain after a particular period of time. However, these cravingsbecome less frequent and less intense in instances where anindividual fails to feed into them or to fight them.
HowMindfulness Views Craving
Asnoted earlier, the concept of craving comes as an extremely crucialfacet in the examination of substance use disorders. Craving may bedefined as a subjective experience of a desire and urge to utilizesubstances (Teasdale et al, 2002). Numerous models of cravingunderline the fact that the craving may be experienced as anemotional state, physical sensation, amplification of intrusivethoughts, impulsive motivation or drive, or other manifestationssalient for individuals who endorse the experiencing of an urge orcraving for the use of substances. Craving has its roots incognitive, affective and biological motivators (Bowen & Marlatt,2010). In biological model of craving, addiction may be seen as abrain disease, while the etiology of substance use and substancecraving emanates from physiological and neurobiological states. Itmay be shown in neural states as studies that link neurotransmitterssuch as gama-aminobutyric acid, serotonin and dopamine to substanceuse. GABA dysregulation, for instance, has been related to a cravingdrive that is referred to as tension relief, while dopamine is linkedto reported craving.
Affectivemodels, on the other hand, have suggested that craving underlines anemotional state that may be triggered by stress, negative affect oraffective expectancies. Craving for the use of substances, in termsof negative expectancies, would be triggered by the avoidance of thestress or negative affect relating to withdrawal to the extent thatthe craving would be both the cause and result of the stress (Bowen &Marlatt, 2010). With positive expectancy, on the other hand, cravingis seen as emanating from positive associations to the effects ofsubstance use. In essence, the fundamental motivation to theavoidance of negative affective states causes craving. Indeed,research has shown that negative affect and stress induced statesincrease craving. Cognitive perspective, on the other hand, hasunderlined the notion that craving is founded on the cognitiveprocesses that are a reflection of higher-order processing ofinformation that eventually evolve into automatic use processes(Michalak et al, 2008). Stress-induced craving, for instance, depictsthe manner in which cognitive event interpretation may triggercraving.
Mindfulness,on the other hand, perceives addiction as an attempt to avoid or holdon to physical, affective and cognitive experiences. An individualmay avoid negative states or cling onto a positive state in anattempt to prevent suffering. Mindfulness practice sees craving as atransient affective and cognitive phenomenon, in which case thepractice aims at bringing awareness t the experience of craving, aswell as learning to observe it without judgment or reacting. Inaddition, mindfulness aims at enhancing the acceptance of anindividual’s experience thereby allowing him or her to experiencehis or her current affective and physical state as impermanent(Miklowitz et al, 2009). Upon the acknowledgement of the impermanenceof such states, the individual would realize that any effort that isexerted to clinging to or the achievement of a particular state wouldnot only be futile but also results in suffering (Teasdale et al,2002). This technique of accepting the affective and physical statein their current form is contrary to the clinging aspect of craving.On the same note, the practice of mindfulness meditation hasevidently been shown as lowering the neural elements of craving.Indeed, researchers have stated that the brain regions that areusually activated in the course of craving exhibit lower activity inthe course of mindful attention to images of substance use whencompared to examining the same images without mindful attention(Bowen & Marlatt, 2010). In the course of mindful attention,there existed considerably lower functional connectivity or linkagebetween subgenual anterior congilate cortex of the brain and otherparts that relate to craving such as bilateral insula and ventralstriatum. All this evidence shows that mindfulness meditationtechnique incorporates the capacity to address the affective,cognitive and neurobiological elements of craving (Michalak et al,2008).
Howa Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention Program Functions
AMindfulness based relapse prevention program incorporates 8 sessions,each of which are two hours long and incorporate formal mindfulnessactivities, alongside skills and exercises that are crafted in such away that they would bring the practices to the daily life of anindividual and particularly the situations that pose the highest riskfor relapse for the person. In the first three sessions, the lessonswould concentrate on enhancing the patient’s awareness of theenvironmental triggers, as well as the cognitive, physical andaffective reactions that emanate from this, thereby bringing his orher awareness to the manner in which the reactions that emanate inresponse to such cues progress (Chawla et al, 2010). The patientwould be taught the informal mindfulness practices on the basis ofthe foundational meditation practices that are thus far establishedso as to get out of the habitual behavioral and cognitive patterns,as well as select a considerably more skillful way of responding. Inthe second session, the patients would take part in exercises thatare particularly aimed at coping with the cravings. In this regard,the clients would practice how to bring awareness to the numerousparts of their experiences while slowly enhancing the intensity andexposure to their response to craving through the in-sessionexercises that are designed to trigger the craving. The patientswould practice approaching the reactions with considerably gentlecuriosity and are provided with instructions that would show ordirect them through the practice of “staying with” thisexperience without making any attempt to cover it up or suppress it,exacerbate it or even give in to it (Bowen & Marlatt, 2010). Thisexercises enables them to undertake imaginal nonreactivity andexposure to the triggers of substance use, where they are taughtskills and tactics that would enable them to stay in contact with thevaried internal reactions to the external triggers that increase therisk of exposure. In addition, the patients would be taught thealternative and competing response to the craving via approachingtheir experiences with curious awareness, as well as de-escalating orlowering the speed of the process through failing to engage in thehabitual behavioral and cognitive patterns that increase theintensity of the craving reaction. In an effort to enhance thecapacity of an individual to tolerate the discomfort that often comeswith craving alongside other reactions to triggers, patients aretaught to maintain a persistent practice of exercises and formalmeditation that is crafted in such a way that it enhances one’sawareness of the reactions and triggers. In essence, the patientsstart to enhance their capacity to withstand the physical andaffective discomfort without necessarily reacting in a manner thatwould result in a temporary relief of distress but rather result inproblematic outcomes in the long-term. In the two final sessions ofthe program, the patients would learn the environmental and socialfactors that detract or support individuals in the maintenance of thetreatment gains, as well as the continued mindfulness practice.
Howdoes Mindfulness-Meditation Prevent Addiction and Relapse?
Initially,mindfulness was primarily used by individuals who were on a spiritualpath in an effort to eliminate the possibility of falling intotemptation and absconding the religious teachings that they espoused(Bowen & Marlatt, 2010). However, the technique has beenincorporated in the rehabilitation sector after the recognition ofthe health benefits with which it comes. There are varied ways inwhich meditation enhances the path to recovery or prevents addictionand relapse in substance abusers.
First,mindfulness is known to enhance the capacity of an individual tomanage stress. It has well been acknowledged that the deficiency ofappropriate skills coupled with dysfunctional beliefs when anindividual faces high-risk or stressful situations are a recipe forrelapse in the case of a large number of individuals. Indeed, theconditioned associations between the situations of previous substanceuse and the substances themselves come with disruptive effects orimpacts on the capacity of an individual to cope after treatment(Bowen & Marlatt, 2010). On the same note, a large number ofpatients have attributed their relapse to negative emotions andinterpersonal stress, with prospective studies confirming that thereis a positive relationship between the level of life stress after thetreatment and the relapse to alcohol and substance abuse. It is worthnoting that mindfulness does not involve escaping from the thoughtsand feelings that trigger such stress or craving, rather it primarilyinvolves paying attention to what is happening in the present timesrather than worrying about the past or the future (Chawla et al,2010). This makes the individual more aware of the habit of his orher mind to predict or foresee future problems. Upon observing thistrend, the individual would find it easier to manage the feelingsthat it triggers. Numerous studies have underlined the effectivenessof mindfulness in reducing stress and, therefore, lowering theprobability for relapse and addiction. Scholars note that thepractice of paying full attention only to the things that arehappening at that particular moment allows individuals to recognizethe sources and impact of stress, as well as come up with customizedstrategies for emancipating themselves from the vicious cyclepertaining to stress reactivity. Studies have indicated that stressmay take its toll on an individual’s body, where it enhances theheart rate, respiration and blood pressure thereby putting anindividual into a state of hyper-arousal (Segal et al, 2002). In thelong-term, the individual would internalize the response which mayresult in varied disorders such as back pains, indigestion and neckpain among others. A large number of individuals try to combat theseproblems through smoking, drinking and overeating. Mindfulness, onthe other hand, allows individuals to be absorbed with what ishappening at the present moment, examine the stressors and come upwith strategies that would allow for the coping and dealing with thestressors and stress itself.
Onthe same note, mindfulness allows for the elimination of negativethought patterns that an alcoholic or substance abuser often engagesin. Scholars have acknowledged that a large proportion of individualswho are trapped in addiction and relapse are often disconnected fromtheir fundamental selves via negative thinking (Chawla et al, 2010).Indeed, when individuals are anxious or stressed out, it is oftencommon for them to feel as if their worrisome and negative thoughtpatterns have the capacity to take their minds out of the presentmoment to better places. The unpleasant thoughts that are oftenreferred to as “cognitive distortions” have their basis onautomatic thought processes that persistently play in their mindsoften for years if unchallenged (Chawla et al, 2010). These negativethought patterns are categorized in three groups includingovergeneralization, labeling and catastrophizing. Labeling haseverything to do with placing tags on an one’s situation and why itwould be difficult to come out of it, while catastrophizingunderlines the imagination of the worst case outcome or scenario.Overgeneralization, on the other hand, involves offering a blanketverdict on situations simply because one aspect has gone wrong. Thesetendencies often come with an element of depression and stress, whicha large number of individuals try to combat through substance use.Mindfulness, which particularly involves deliberately paying fullattention to the present moment, allows individuals to be aware oftheir thought patterns without placing any label or judgment on them.This allows for enhanced clarity of the thought patterns andincreases the capacity of an individual to challenge such thoughts.Mindfulness-meditation teaches individuals to accept the challengesthat they face and acknowledge the temporariness of the situation,thereby acknowledging that the situation will always improve for thebetter. The comprehension of their thought patterns allows them tochannel their thoughts to the positive, in which case they can copewith their situation and desist from relapsing.
Further,mindfulness would enhance the capacity of an individual to deal withpain. More often than not individuals go back to unhealthy tendenciesas a result of the bodily pain that comes with rehabilitation.Indeed, it has been acknowledged that stopping a habit such assmoking, alcohol consumption or substance abuse often triggersnumerous withdrawal symptoms, the intensity and frequency of which isdetermined by the type of substances that an individual consumed,length of time of consumption and the health of the individual, amongother factors. Some of the withdrawal symptoms may includeirritability, headaches, muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting and evenconstipation among others. These are often the reasons or factorsthat cause individuals to go back to their old unhealthy habits evenwhen they were more destructive. However, mindfulness-based relapseprevention comes with lessons that allow an individual to be curiousabout such experiences and examine their intensity. Further, theindividuals would let go of their expectations and goals in therehabilitation process (Breslin et al, 2002). It has well beenacknowledged that a large number of people go back to substance abuseas a result of the acknowledgement of unmet expectations. Forinstance, they may expect the rehabilitation and recovery process tobe easy, in which case they would be disappointed when theyexperience the varied pitfalls that come with the process. This wouldbe compounded by the withdrawal symptoms (Teasdale et al, 2002).Mindfulness would come with a learning mindset rather than anachievement-oriented mindset, where the individuals would have adifferent perspective regarding the process of rehabilitation. Thisallows them to live for the moment and acknowledge where they arewithout passing any negative judgment on their position. Scholarshave noted that the awareness of the present moment would balance outthe varied thought inflammations, as well as distortions andemotional agitations that come alongside the varied challenges ofrehabilitation and addiction. It would provide a considerably moreprecise perception of the pain and challenges, thereby allowing suchunpleasant episodes to fade away. Indeed, research has shown thatmindfulness may reduce psychological symptoms such as depression andcomorbid anxiety in varied populations. Negative emotional stateshave the capacity to amplify suffering that is usually associated orlinked to pain perception. Further, mindfulness increases bodyawareness and physical self-monitoring possibly resulting in enhancedbody mechanics, as well as improved self ace. On the same note,mindfulness meditation, unlike conventional relaxation training isrelated to higher para-sympathetic activation which often promotedeeper muscle relaxation, as well as concomitant lessening of theirritability and myofascial tension that may lower pain (Breslin etal, 2002). On the same note, mindfulness may enhancepsychophysiological activation through the enhancement of thecognitive coping processes including positive reappraisal, as well asstrengthening emotion regulation skills like distress tolerance.
Inconclusion, Issues pertaining to addiction have been extremelycontroversial in the contemporary human society. Needless to say,addiction has primarily been examined from the lens of drugs andalcohol, in which case these are the forms of addictions on whichtreatment strategies have been based. Nevertheless, other forms ofaddiction have been examined and explored in the recent timesincluding sex addiction. While numerous strategies for combatingaddiction and relapse have been crafted, mindfulness has gainedimmense popularity in the recent times. Mindfulness practicesincorporated in Mindfulness-based Relapse prevention are aimed atincreasing the level of awareness of the internal cognitive, externaltriggers and affective processes, enhance the capacity of the clientto tolerate challenging physical, affective and cognitiveexperiences, as well as increase the metacognitive abilities of theclient (Teasdale et al, 2002). Mindfulness meditation incorporates anattitude of acceptance to inevitable distractions occurring when anindividual stays still. Even in instances where the client isundergoing a distracting thought or unpleasant emotion, he or shewould be capable of investigating or observing the experience ratherthan trying to avoid or suppress it. Of particular note is the factthat the acceptance does not involve resignation or passivity when anindividual is faced by strong affective states (Breslin et al,2002). Instead, it underlines the aspect of being fully present withalthough not preoccupied with the states as they take place.
Thecornerstone of mindfulness meditation is the fact that every emotionand thought would die or fade away in instances where it is notfueled by the emotional reactions and judgments of the individual whois experiencing them. It has well been acknowledged that the typicalreactions emanating that often arise include those of aversion to orcraving for certain things. The detached observation coupled withmental reactions and suspended evaluations does not promote theexpression or suppression of emotions but rather views them in animpartial way, thereby enabling the individual to deal with theemotions in an appropriate manner. It allows client to have theawareness of varied experiences without any attachment to them. Moreoften than not, the eradication of all aversions and cravings mayappear like an impossible task, making an individual question suchendeavor’s desirability when he or she sets out to undertake it.However, the recovering individual should initially aim at becomingfree from his addictions and fears as they may be hindrances to thereal objectives of one’s life. Mindfulness meditation allowsclients to modify their conditioned reactions into actions that havetheir basis on free choice. Mindfulness has its central aim asfreeing an individual from the restricting influences pertaining tostrong emotions whether negative or positive.
Thereare varied reasons why mindfulness would be effective in lowering thepossibility of relapse and substance addiction. First, mindfulness isknown to enhance the capacity of an individual to manage stress. Ithas well been acknowledged that the deficiency of appropriate skillscoupled with dysfunctional beliefs when an individual faces high-riskor stressful situations are a recipe for relapse in the case of alarge number of individuals. Scholars note that the practice ofpaying full attention only to the things that are happening at thatparticular moment allows individuals to recognize the sources andimpact of stress, as well as come up with customized strategies foremancipating themselves from the vicious cycle pertaining to stressreactivity (Breslin et al, 2002). In addition, mindfulness allowsfor the elimination of negative thought patterns that an alcoholic orsubstance abuser often engages in. Scholars have acknowledged that alarge proportion of individuals who are trapped in addiction andrelapse are often disconnected from their fundamental selves vianegative thinking (Breslin et al, 2002). Mindfulness-meditationteaches individuals to accept the challenges that they face andacknowledge the temporariness of the situation, thereby acknowledgingthat the situation will always improve for the better. Thecomprehension of their thought patterns allows them to channel theirthoughts to the positive, in which case they can cope with theirsituation and desist from relapsing.
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