Calgary Dream Centre
4510 Macleod Trail SW Calgary AB T2G 0A4 (403) 243-5598

How Mindfulness Can Manage Your Addiction

Mindfulness and meditation can make it easier to manage addictions.

Managing addiction is a lot more complex and nuanced than simple detoxification. 

For decades, councilors, psychologists, and psychiatrists have worked on various programs to help people with addictions manage their symptoms so they can achieve the life they want. One of these techniques is known as mindfulness, and mental health experts worldwide have implemented its practice into many addiction programs.

Today, we’re going to look into mindfulness-based approaches (MBAs) and how it can help you manage your addiction so you can live a happier and healthier life.

What is “Mindfulness?”

MBAs were developed decades ago but were popularized in North America by Jon Kabat-Zinn when he started integrating medication practices into a mindfulness-based stress reduction course. To him, mindfulness was defined as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

By practicing mindfulness, your thoughts turn to the present moment rather than staying focused on past events or imagining a possible future. And while some people may believe that a state of mind doesn’t impact recovery, many studies suggest otherwise.

In fact, many controlled research studies have found that MBAs can provide significant clinical benefits for people with addictions to substances like alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, opioids, and more.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

Mindfulness practices are based in 2 primary elements: focused attention and open monitoring.

Focused attention, often the first element practiced in mindfulness, happens when you focus on one sensory object, like breathing, while you actively attempt to distance yourself from distracting thoughts and emotions. 

The next step is open monitoring. Open monitoring is the process of reaching a metacognitive state of awareness that allows you to monitor your consciousness’s content while reflecting on the process of consciousness itself. 

This is where techniques differentiate between each other. However, the ultimate goal of mindfulness is to help you analyze your thoughts and feelings objectively.

Mindfulness Practices You Can Do On Your Own

The best thing about mindfulness practices is that they are something you can do on your own at any time you like. Some of these practices can include:

Body Scan Meditation

For a body scan meditation, lie on your back someplace comfortable and keep your legs straight and arms by your side with your palms facing up. Breathe slowly and steadily focus your attention on each part of your body, either toe to head or head to toe (the choice is yours). While you do this, make sure you are mindful of the sensations, thoughts, and emotions connected to each body part you direct your focus.

Sitting Meditation

Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands in your lap. While slowly breathing through your nose, be mindful of any thoughts or sensations you may experience. If they interfere with your meditation, note the experience and refocus on your breathing.

Walking Meditation

You can even meditate while walking! To do this, find someplace that allows you to pace for about 10 to 20 feet uninterrupted. While walking, be mindful of the sensations you feel and what movements you make to maintain your balance.

Start on a New Path Today

Mindfulness has been shown to help thousands of people worldwide manage their addictions so they can lead full, happy lives. The Calgary Dream Centre is proud to offer mindfulness training within our Addiction Recovery programs and will work with you to achieve the happiness you deserve. Please, visit us today and apply for a program that’s right for you and your needs.

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  • Written by Chris Sciberras

    Director of Program and Mental Health Clinician Chris is a Registered Provisional Psychologist with a Masters of Counselling from the University of Calgary and a Bachelors of Counselling from the Australian College of Applied Psychology. For the past decade, he has worked extensively with youth, adults, and families in a variety of capacities, with a focus on mental well-being and addiction recovery. Chris has served as the Mental Health Clinician and Program Director at the Calgary Dream Centre since 2017. Prior to joining the Dream Centre, Chris worked in the school system as a Mental Health Counsellor. Chris is passionate about supporting clients at the Dream Centre and helping them along their path of recovery. Chris is originally from Australia, has travelled to over 30 countries, and now happily calls Calgary home.

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    The Calgary Dream Centre acknowledges with humble gratitude that our organization is located on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Iyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Otipemisiwak Métis Government of the Métis Nation within Alberta District 6, and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.