Treating Substance Abuse Using A Holistic Approach. Researchers from Canada recently published a study that posits a three-pronged approach to integrating mindfulness into addiction recovery.
Mindfulness, which means a state of being conscious or aware of the present moment, is considered by many in the addiction field to be an effective tool in the treatment of substance abuse. Techniques such as meditation and yoga often use mindfulness to provide balance and focus for those struggling with a myriad of problems, including addiction.
Their proposed program includes three modes of treatment – yoga, meditation, and self-reflection. In the context of the study, mindfulness is defined as a practice in which persons concentrate on specific thoughts, emotions, and bodily reactions.
To combine the practice of mindfulness and addiction, teachings from Buddhist philosophy, Hindu yoga poses, and 12-step programs were incorporated.
Researchers decision to use some aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous teachings because their purpose is to modify behavior and patterns of dysfunction, and also focus on self-reflection to improve resilience and adaptability to negative life experiences.
Of note, this approach is considered non-religious, and “the higher power” is instead viewed as the higher power within the individual.
The yoga modality is intended to alleviate tension and stress within the body, as well as help individuals and focus on physical sensations. Moreover, by centering on the body, the person is distracted from self-destructive or impulsive thoughts, urges, and feelings.
The second component is meditation, a practice that helps individuals to let intrusive thoughts related to their addiction pass in a non-judgmental manner. Moreover, individuals can let go of specific triggers and find a mediated way to neither repress nor act out thoughts and feelings.
The last modality is self-examination or peer support. In this practice, people share experiences and participate in group readings of recovery literature. According to researchers, when study volunteers participated with peers consistently, they development interpersonal connections as well as an improved sense of trust.
Study participants were chosen from Halifax, Nova Scotia, where there appears to be a prevalence of substance abuse and addiction. The pilot program, which included eight women and men in recovery, was conducted over a period of ten weeks. The study was, published in the Journal of Basic & Applied Sciences.