Treating Addiction With Mindful Thinking

We’ve seen in this previous article here about how mindfulness can provide help and sustenance to adults who have suffered from the traumas of abuse, and it is becoming increasingly clear that as a tool for mental wellness, the power of this way of thinking, grounded in Buddhist practice definitely has manifold benefits.

Scientists, doctors and psychologists are now looking into how mindfulness therapy can be used to treat patients who present with the signs and symptoms of addiction, and how it can help to ease not only the mental effects, but the physical pain that is experienced too.

Essentially, our brains are the same as they were from the earliest days of man, when we learned to walk, hunt, gather, and flee from things that were frightening us. Nowadays, our lives are filled with so many different stressors and things that can disrupt our thought patterns, beyond the norm that many of us need things to calm us down – this is why addiction is, in many ways, on the rise amongst certain age groups in society. Many people will turn to substance abuse as a way of coping with what life throws at them.

In the realms of other therapies like CBT or a traditional 12 step program, the focus is on talking, and perhaps a gradual weaning off from nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. Employing mindfulness means that the patient still focuses on withdrawal and also discussion of their problems, but it also encourages them to think about every step of the physical and mental process they go through and through this creates less and less desire to imbibe their substance of choice, by actively thinking and discouraging themselves, the “need” lessens.

Doctors and psychologists are hopeful that, over time, this mode of treatment will be something that is turned to more and more as a “third way” to help people overcome their issues and to use when perhaps other methods haven’t worked as successfully as they should have.

By Laura Chapman, Guest Contributor

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