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Mindfulness-Based Sobriety in Chicago

Mindfulness-Based Sobriety in Chicago

Acceptance is a big part of the addiction recovery process. Yet, despite your best efforts, you might find it challenging to accept how things are in the moment. You might find yourself drifting to the past or the future, worried about how events have impacted your life, or feeling anxiety or uncertainty about what lies ahead. Mindfulness can help. 

By centering on the present and becoming aware of ourselves, we can learn how to soothe ourselves in times of struggle. Mindfulness-based sobriety techniques can also be a powerful form of relapse prevention. 

What Is Mindfulness?

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of what we’re doing and where we are. It can help us avoid overreacting to situations or becoming overwhelmed by what’s happening around us. Mindfulness is a quality most of us possess, though we can often struggle to access it when we need it most.

Proven techniques to cultivate mindfulness include seated, walking, standing, or moving meditation. You might also merge meditation practices with other activities to achieve mindfulness, like yoga. Taking short pauses in everyday life to appreciate your immediate surroundings is also a form of mindfulness. In essence, mindfulness is noticing your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment without judgment. 

For mindfulness to work, you don’t need to change who you are but rather accept yourself in the now. You can practice mindfulness at any time. Letting challenging thoughts or emotions pop up and pass without feeling overwhelmed is a great place to start. It’s an evidence-based approach that can bring proven benefits. For instance, bringing awareness and attention to all you do could help reduce stress or gain better control over your reaction to it. 

What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

Little by little, you can notice the benefits of mindfulness when you incorporate it into your everyday life. Here are just a few:

Improve Emotional Regulation

Improve Emotional Regulation

Mindfulness helps us become aware of the thoughts and feelings we experience in the moment, helping us see how we can become entangled in them in ways that aren’t helpful. Awareness of how a specific person, place, or thought makes us feel can help us make healthy changes. For instance, if a thought triggers guilt or shame, you can learn how to redirect the thought toward a healthy outlet, such as a favorite hobby. 

Research supports the notion that mindfulness meditation can help you regulate emotions. If you notice a specific place conjures troubling memories, mindfulness can help you better accept these thoughts and handle them to avoid feelings of panic, for instance. Instead of worrying about your current situation, mindfulness promotes acceptance without judgment. As a result, practicing it can positively impact emotional health.

Promote Gratitude

Promote Gratitude

When you’re more aware of the present, you can experience things with a fresh mindset — including those things you might have taken for granted. For instance, you might take a look around you and notice how happy you are with your partner, family, or friends. You might gain a better appreciation for the simple things in life, such as feeling the sun on your face or a smile from a passing stranger. 

You might even write down these events as they occur and build a daily gratitude list. Taking stock of all you appreciate can promote better well-being and satisfaction in life. Research shows practicing gratitude can increase self-esteem, improve your sleep, enhance empathy, and contribute to better moods. 

Reduce Rumination

Reduce Rumination

Rumination is sometimes a symptom of depression and anxiety. You might obsess over certain feelings, thoughts, or beliefs that trigger symptoms of depression and vice versa. Taking a step back from these thoughts can help you recognize the patterns. Gradually, you might see how specific thoughts might be symptoms of mental health issues that have only a certain degree of control over you. 

As a result, mindfulness might reduce rumination as you can learn precisely what might be causing it and learn healthy ways to change it. The changes you make can trickle into other parts of your life, helping you reduce stress, anxiety, and any challenging emotions you might not have noticed affecting you. 

Enhance Well-Being

Enhance Well-Being

Mindfulness can have a positive impact on our overall well-being. Focusing on the present can help you enjoy life more and learn how to accept yourself. It can also reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Instead of brooding over or feeling trapped by perceived problems, mindfulness practices can help you recognize them and learn how to solve them more productively. 

This kind of awareness might also help you notice the signs of stress and anxiety earlier to help you better deal manage them. That way, you can go through your day with less overwhelming feelings. Over time, mindfulness strategies might lead to more happiness and fulfillment in life. 

What Is Mindfulness-Based Sobriety?

What Is Mindfulness-Based Sobriety?

Mindfulness-based sobriety is a form of addiction therapy. It involves mindfulness activities like meditation to help people in recovery stay aware of their triggers. Being able to manage unhelpful reactions to stimuli is the ultimate goal.

A mindfulness-based addiction treatment center will provide several strategies to help you cope with overwhelming feelings and emotions. You’ll learn to take a step back, center yourself in the moment, and recognize the multiple possible outcomes over situations where you only have a certain amount of control. 

In other words, it’s possible to react to triggers in ways that help you rather than contribute to destructive emotions or poor health outcomes. Mindfulness can help you see these avenues to support your recovery and overall health and wellness.

How Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Can Help You

At Gateway Foundation, we use mindfulness-based sobriety as a therapeutic method to help people struggling with addiction. It is one of the pillars of our evidence-based practices, utilized in group, individual, and family counseling. Mindfulness-based addiction treatment centers can help you in the following ways:

Focus on the Present

Focus on the Present

People in recovery often hold back their emotions or stress about the future. These reactions can make it difficult to accept the present and stay in tune with yourself. Stress and anxiety can contribute to losing out on precious moments in life. Or you might be focused on goals without acknowledging how you’re feeling. Regardless, the primary purpose of mindfulness is to help you focus on yourself in the now. 

It’s easy to get caught up in our everyday obligations, letting the present pass by without reflection. Instead of letting the present pass by, mindfulness can help you notice changes you’ve made, reflect on them and continue moving forward with optimism.

In treatment programs, focusing on the present can also help you become more grateful for where you are and the strides you’re making toward recovery. Gratitude can become a powerful form of motivation, where you can leverage what you’ve learned about yourself into positive change. 

Learn to Identify and Cope With Triggers

Learn to Identify and Cope With Triggers

Triggers are the people, places, events, sensations, or things that cause stress. Many people feel the urge to turn to alcohol or substances to distract themselves from anxiety and other challenging emotions associated with their triggers. Mindfulness gives you the tools to understand why you react to stressors with addictive behaviors and how you can redirect your feelings in healthy, positive ways. 

As you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, you can discover the underlying issues that might contribute to your addiction. You can also learn more about your emotions to improve your well-being. For instance, perhaps you have a co-occurring mental health condition impacting your addiction and overall health. 

Mindfulness might cause you to ask yourself what your feelings, thoughts, or emotions mean. You’ll learn more about yourself to grasp the sources of your symptoms better and gain clarity on the changes you should make to reduce those challenging emotions. 

Maybe a bar or restaurant triggers memories associated with substance use. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with stress, anger, depression, or uncomfortable feelings related to the trigger, you can use a healthy coping mechanism to handle these emotions better. Mindfulness can also help you manage cravings through thoughtful observation, becoming a powerful form of relapse prevention

Promote Self-Compassion

Promote Self-Compassion

Self-compassion plays a vital role in addiction recovery. Substance use is often driven by a deep sense of shame or other emotional pain, and recovery is often complicated by guilt or regret over past events that occurred during addiction. The main goal of mindfulness-based addiction treatment centers is to help you accept yourself without judging past mistakes or worrying about how you’ll cope in the future. This type of therapy can help you appreciate your strengths and be more likely to maintain sobriety. 

Negative emotions like guilt, shame, and self-criticism only serve to cause more pain and suffering rather than leading to meaningful change. And too often, people with substance use disorders are kind to others and merciless with themselves. While it’s easy to internalize these emotions in recovery, mindfulness can help you overcome them. You can learn to empathize with others while being kinder to yourself. 

These skills can protect your well-being. Self-compassion is also related to less alcohol and substance use, and people with addiction often have better recovery outcomes when they have more self-compassion. When you can connect to yourself with kindness, you can accept that you are doing your best in the moment, promoting healthy change for the future. 

Enhance 12-Step Work

Enhance 12-Step Work

One of the main things you’ll learn in 12-step support groups is accountability. Mindfulness can enhance the skills you’ve learned in these programs, as it follows a similar philosophy. While relapse is not uncommon in the early stages of recovery, mindfulness can help you stay accountable and honest with yourself to strengthen your 12-step work. 

Mindfulness can help you gain deeper insight into what is going on in your mind and daily life. It can strengthen the relationship between your mind, emotion, and behaviors. That way, you can be more honest and thorough when doing your 12-step work, which is crucial to this program. Essential support steps have you look deeper at your emotional state and behaviors like selfishness, resentment, dishonesty, and fear.

You can become more aware of everything happening in your mind and environment through mindfulness practices. They can also help improve your level of responsibility and accountability, helping you maintain your sobriety for the long haul.

Increase Resilience

Increase Resilience

Mindfulness is a tool that can be applied to all aspects of your life, increasing your resiliency when facing new challenges associated with addiction. 

While traditional treatment focuses on avoiding triggers or controlling cravings, mindfulness encourages reflecting on urges through observation. You can name and tolerate your experiences rather than fight against them. As you wait for them to pass, you will recognize that you have the freedom to respond differently than you would have in the past. It’s not about the drink or substance — it’s about how you use those items to manage your emotional experience and what you can do instead.

Practicing mindfulness strategies multiple times a day can make the habit automatic, serving you better than trying to resist or control urgings. Mindfulness can even strengthen parts of the brain associated with decision-making, which might help you avoid relapse. You will likely apply these techniques outside of treatment, subconsciously using the cognitive skills you’ve learned wherever you go. 

Being present in your life can make you a happier, healthier person. It can also lead to better moods and less emotional distress, which can help you in recovery and other aspects of life — including in the workplace or at school. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Mindfulness-Based Sobriety

Gateway Foundation offers mindfulness-based addiction treatment to help you work through challenging emotions and establish healthy coping skills. We often receive the following questions about our treatment: 

1. Who Should Use Mindfulness-Based Sobriety?

Who Should Use Mindfulness-Based Sobriety?

While everyone can attempt mindfulness-based sobriety, it’s often more accessible for those motivated to change or naturally view their thoughts and emotions as observable experiences. In other words, it helps to be reflective and willing to try something new to put in the effort to make mindfulness work. 

While not difficult to practice in itself, mindfulness requires a certain amount of self-discipline to focus only on the present and not get caught up in thoughts of the past or future. When you can learn to slow down and quiet the mental chatter, you can achieve a sense of peace which is often a reason people might turn to drugs like alcohol or opiates.

While mindfulness can help anyone with an addiction, these techniques can also benefit anyone with depression and anxiety or with challenging emotions and intrusive thoughts. You can also use mindfulness practices to overcome everyday stress that might arise from family, work, and school obligations or other personal responsibilities.

2. How Does Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Work? 

The main goal of mindfulness-based addiction treatment is learning to notice your urges without acting on them. For example, if you desire to drink, rather than making yourself feel guilty about past instances where you gave in to the feeling, you would recognize the initial urge and let it pass over you.

The same can be said about other emotions resulting from the urge to give in to a craving, such as depression, shame, anger, or fear. While the natural impulse to deal with cravings might be avoidance or suppression, these reactions often strengthen the craving. Therefore, when you can manage these emotional reactions, you will be less likely to relapse.

In this way, mindfulness-based sobriety helps you separate yourself from addictive thoughts as though observing them from a distance. Instead of judging your thoughts, the technique can help you change your perspective on the discomfort. When you let the thoughts, emotions, and feelings pass over you, cravings may start to subside on their own.

3. How Effective Is Mindfulness-Based Addiction Treatment?

Everyone is different, and mindfulness-based addiction treatment outcomes vary from person to person. However, most people who dedicate their time to mindfulness practices notice improved emotional regulation or ability to process challenging emotions. This skill can go a long way in addiction recovery and become a powerful relapse prevention tool. 

In that way, mindfulness can be very effective. People with co-occurring mental health conditions like depression and anxiety might notice improvements in their symptoms, which can significantly impact their overall recovery. After all, mental health conditions can often exacerbate addiction and vice versa, and to treat one condition, you must treat the other. You’ll learn more about yourself and the underlying triggers that contribute to addiction. From there, you can work with professionals to establish healthy coping mechanisms to overcome these stressors.

4. Is Mindfulness-Based Addiction Treatment Evidence-Based or Holistic? 

Mindfulness-based addiction treatment fits into both an evidence-based and holistic approach. At Gateway, we utilize evidence-based treatments as a foundation for your recovery. Our clients have full access to various treatment programs, but there is no one-size-fits-all strategy.

Therefore, using both an evidence-based and holistic treatment plan can be extremely valuable for recovery. Clients will benefit from mindfulness, as it aims to treat the person rather than just the addiction. It also leaves room to explore other treatment methods like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), support groups, and other forms of addiction care.

While mindfulness-based sobriety can reduce stress and help you avoid relapse, it also gives you the confidence to move forward. You can use these techniques in all aspects of your life and gain the self-compassion and encouragement to make healthy changes.

5. How Is Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Used at Gateway? 

How Is Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Used at Gateway?

Clients of our mindfulness-based sobriety in Chicago can make these techniques part of their individualized treatment plans. Our mindfulness therapies focus on the following:

  • Incorporating more evidence-based approaches: Making mindfulness a service option at our treatment center allows clients who prefer holistic care the best of both worlds. Our practices appeal to these clients while having grounds in objective, scientific evidence. Everyone is different, and while mindfulness can be used as a standalone treatment, we can also incorporate it into other treatments and programs to increase effectiveness, such as intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Learning to identify and manage triggers: Our mindfulness-based addiction treatments allow clients to discover their triggers and find ways to cope with them. Mindfulness lets you dig deeper into the reasons for your feelings, making these techniques ideal for relapse prevention. 
  • Accepting the present: In recovery, it’s crucial that you focus on your present thoughts and situation. Dwelling on the past or worrying too much about the future can harm your progress. You can learn to acknowledge your emotions and move forward productively in mindfulness-based sobriety.

Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Gives Clients the Tools They Need to Deal with Challenges in the Future

Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Gives Clients the Tools They Need to Deal with Challenges in the Future

Mindfulness-based addiction treatment can be crucial to your overall health and well-being. The holistic and evidence-based approach allows you to center on the present, which can benefit a healthy, substance-free future. At Gateway, mindfulness is just one part of a complete recovery. You can appreciate other forms of therapy, from dual diagnosis to medication-assisted treatment, when you opt for mindfulness-based sobriety. 

To get started, contact us today. 

Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Gives Clients the Tools They Need to Deal with Challenges in the Future

At Gateway, mindfulness-based treatment therapy is just one part of complete recovery. Call 877–377–2027 when you’re ready to take back control over your destiny, or contact us online.