MBCT: Can Mindfulness Therapy Help With Addiction Recovery?

When you’re on the addiction recovery path, you may find yourself on a roller coaster ride of emotions. One day everything will be going alright and the next you may be facing some heavy emotions or daunting situations. If you’re going through detox or the early days of recovery, some days may feel super tough and you wonder if you’re going to make it.

No doubt you want to make it. You want to crush that addiction and create the kind of life you truly want. You want to get to a place where you can face your days with peace of mind, feeling confident that whatever happens, you can handle it.

Finding a method or tool that brings you peace of mind ought to be among one of your highest priorities as you travel the recovery journey.

Isn’t that what we all want? Peace?

There’s no doubt about that. Peace – and joy – are the two feelings we all crave very much.

There’s a type of psychotherapy called Mindfully Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) that can help you experience more of those positive feelings. Alcohol and drug treatment centers use well-known therapies to treat addiction, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and the 12 Step programs. However, more and more are now using MBCT and getting good results.

What is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?

MBCT is a common treatment when it comes to emotional and mental well-being, combining cognitive therapy and mindfulness practices. The therapy provides tools that enable you to achieve peace of mind by becoming mindful or aware of the present moment. Essentially, it can help you break the negative cycle of thoughts that have been affecting you in negative ways.

For example, if you’ve been caught up in a story in your mind that says, “I’m no good. I’m not worthy to live a life where I can feel peace and joy,” then you’re likely in for a rough recovery road. It’s those exact thoughts that need targeted and addressed, so you can begin to “feel” better. A good MBCT therapist can help you laser in on those negative thoughts and ultimately, “delete” them by helping you learn how to stay in the present moment.

The consensus is that if you are mindful of the “now”, you aren’t caught up in the past or the future. You’re not regretting the past or worrying about the future, which can help eliminate a lot of mental suffering.

The core job of an MBCT therapist is to listen and really hear what you’re saying, but not focus entirely on your stories of the past. They may briefly engage with the past, but their key focus is on teaching you how to become mindful of the present. This may include breathing techniques. MBCT is unique in that it teaches that every person can use mindfulness to enjoy a happier, more peaceful life.

Who Does MBCT Help?

Plenty of individual therapists and mental health agencies use MBCT to help clients. Addiction treatment centers also use it combined with other therapies. MBCT is most effective on those who show symptoms of rumination, chronic worry and anxiety. It teaches you how to judge your thoughts and feelings less. You’ll be encouraged to spend less time wondering, “what if” and more time accepting what’s going on in each moment as it presents itself.

What Are The Benefits Of MBCT For Me?

Learning to become more aware of your thoughts and practicing mindfulness can be very beneficial to your daily life. The following are some benefits of MBCT:

  • MBCT will help you understand your thoughts better and their effect on your daily life. You’ll learn the kinds of things that cause your moods to spiral toward depression, fear, or anxiety. Once you identify the connections, you’ll be able to better find ways to combat the triggers without resorting to substance abuse.
  • You’ll also learn more about your “thought life” in general. Using mindfulness, and perhaps meditation, you’ll learn to become more of a witness to your thoughts, rather than think you are those thoughts. This can help you feel less negative emotions and more peace.
  • MBCT can help you experience positive changes in the brain that decrease emotional pain. It can cause you to have higher self-control and respond to challenging situations with less of an emotional charge.
  • Mindfulness is also known to decrease chronic pain and stress, as well as give you better focus. You’re more likely to engage in intentional and purposeful behavior instead of shooting conditioned responses to avoid discomfort.
  • Cultivating mindfulness may be beneficial for your interpersonal well being too. It can allow you to communicate more effectively with others and regulate your anger.
  • Using MBCT can help prevent relapse, especially for those who previously struggled with depression. The reality is that plenty of people that struggle with depression start drinking or taking drugs to attempt to numb the inner pain. Or, as an attempt to escape the negative feelings temporarily. MBCT is a therapy that will help such individuals address both the substance abuse and the depression. They can learn how to identify their triggers and use mindfulness to get through them, rather than succumb to them.
  • MBCT reduces levels of anxiety. In a world where anxiety levels are at an all-time high, this is a great benefit of such therapy. You may also get better sleep because you’re more able to calm your mind, rather than allowing those racing thoughts to keep you awake.
  • MBCT can reduce PTSD symptoms, such as fear, anxiety, and depression.

Reach Out For Help

If you’re on the addiction recovery path or thinking about entering an addiction recovery treatment program, know that there are plenty of evidence-based treatments that can help you. MBCT is simply one tool of many that can help you overcome addiction and go on to lead a life marked with more peace and joy.

If you need help, simply reach out. We’re here to assist you along your journey.


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