Moving Forward with Relapse Prevention and Mindfulness
· March 20 First Day of Spring 2019 ·
The first day of spring 2019 is finally here!
After a long winter of rain, cold days, winds and low sunlight – rays of hope (and sunshine!) are appearing.
Spring – Time of New Beginnings
With spring comes longer days, warmer temperatures and more sunshine. Many individuals find new inspiration – and renewed hope – in the spring season. New spring green leaves and new flowers suddenly appear. Spring is a time for new beginnings.
Not surprisingly – spring seems to encourage many individuals to take stock of their lives and life choices. For some, this can mean a recognition of a substance use disorder (SUD) or addiction issue; including dual diagnosis (addiction with anxiety, for example).
Finding the right addiction rehab program for your unique personal needs is critical. For assistance in finding the right intervention or integrated treatment program in Northern California, the Bay Area and Silicon Valley – or in other areas in the U.S. – call New Start Recovery Solutions at 877-367-9930.
Relapse Prevention Tools
Begin with a relapse prevention plan. The warmer months mean more outdoor barbeque, outdoor sports – and more opportunities to be around individuals drinking alcohol and abusing substances.
In early recovery, it is best to avoid relapse triggers. Avoiding relapse triggers can include family gatherings if drinking and drugs will be present.
But as recovery and sobriety become more stable – it is possible to prevent relapse even when addictive substances are present. A relapse prevention plan is critical at this point.
Tools for Relapse Prevention: A Relapse Plan and Mindfulness
- With a relapse prevention plan in place – you don’t have to relapse to work the plan. Relapse prevention becomes a daily routine.
- Mindfulness is the method to implement relapse prevention.
Relapse Prevention Plan – Start Here
Understanding and effectively dealing with emotions and habitual reactions are key to maintaining sobriety. Begin to ask yourself:
- Intentions – What are my intentions for today? What do I want to get out of this day?
- Stress – Am I craving my substance of choice? Is my schedule today manageable enough to keep my stress level low? Do I plan on doing anything that would sabotage my recovery or the goals in my treatment plan?
- Feelings and Emotions – Become aware of how you are feeling emotionally. Processing and understanding how you feel may be difficult at first. However, you will begin to get better when you start to identify exactly what you are experiencing emotionally. It is helpful to begin to describe feelings by writing them on paper, in a journal or on your computer. Writing descriptions of feelings will assist in learning to identify emotions and their physical sensations (anxiety causes muscle tightness, for example). Writing will also give you time to think about and process feelings. Mindfulness meditation is very important in this process.
- Action – What positive action actions are you taking? How are you building a better quality of life to move forward in a positive direction?
- Reflect – Begin to understand how you habitually react to certain situations in daily life. Remember: you can’t think your way out of problems that you reacted your way into. You must be able to look at your actions with total honesty and understand the way they impact your recovery.
Letting Go and Moving Forward with Mindfulness
“You only have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Mindfulness is developing the internal focus to be quietly aware of your own thoughts and impulses – without judgment. And, without acting on habitual impulses.
Although it is definitely not easy – positive growth and positive changes are possible even from the most tragic of circumstances and trauma. Mental health and balance can be restored.
Lasting recovery from substance abuse requires a total re-assessment of habitual behaviors and habitual thinking patterns. Addiction recovery (and recovery from traumatic events) requires a greater degree of self-knowledge. And a leap into the unknown of more positive choices is needed. For most, this process also results in inner spiritual growth.
Benefits of Mindfulness
According to a practice review published in 2010 by the APA (American Psychological Association), What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness? – the practice of mindfulness has several distinct advantages in mood regulation, stress reduction and self awareness. With increased self-awareness – impulsive and habitual behaviors decrease.
Benefits of Mindfulness in Addiction Treatment Include:
- Reduced Pain – A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience March 16, 2016 concluded that Mindfulness meditation reliably reduces pain. (Mindfulness-Meditation-Based Pain Relief Is Not Mediated by Endogenous Opioids)
- Reduced Rumination – Several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces obsessive thoughts.
- Stress reduction – Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress.
- Boosts to working memory – Improvements to working memory appear to be another benefit of mindfulness.
- Focus – Another study examined how mindfulness meditation affected participants’ ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information. Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were correlated directly with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning (Moore and Malinowski, 2009).
- Less Emotional Reactivity – Research also supports that mindfulness meditation decreases emotional reactivity. This results in being able to ‘catch’ habitual reactions before it becomes an action.
- More Cognitive Flexibility – Another line of research suggests that in addition to helping people become less reactive, mindfulness meditation may also provide greater cognitive flexibility to avoid habitual behaviors.
→ One study found that people who practice mindfulness meditation appear to develop the skill of self-observation, which neurologically disengages the automatic pathways that were created by prior learning and enables present-moment input to be integrated in a new way (Mindfulness Training and Neural Integration, Siegel, 2007a).
- Increased Emotional Resilience – Meditation also activates the brain region associated with more adaptive responses to stressful or negative situations (Cahn & Polich, 2006; Davidson et al., 2003). Activation of this region corresponds with faster recovery to baseline after being negatively provoked (Davis and Hayes, What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness).
- Relationship Satisfaction – Several studies find that a person’s ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction by increasing the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one’s emotions to a partner.
Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery
Rule 1: Change Your Life
Rule 2: Be Completely Honest
Rule 3: Ask for Help
Rule 4: Practice Self-Care
Rule 5: Don’t Bend the Rules
Bay Area Whole Person Recovery
Intervention, Medical Detox, Holistic Rehab, Relapse Prevention, Aftercare
New Start Recovery Solutions is located in San Jose in the heart of the Bay Area. We have affordable, confidential and effective addiction rehab.
Serving the East Bay, Silicon Valley and the Bay Area – New Start Recovery Solutions provides professional intervention, medical detox and addiction recovery in the cities of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Stanford, Menlo Park, Concord and surrounding areas.
Need Help with Alcohol or Substance Abuse in Silicon Valley?
If you or your family are experiencing the effects of addiction – it is time to take the necessary steps to get help.
New Start Recovery Solutions can help you with alcoholism and drug rehab in most areas of the U.S.
If PTSD or any form of mental illness is also involved (depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and more) – it is critical to make certain the recovery center you choose has Dual Diagnosis treatment.
Dual Diagnosis is also known as ‘co-occurring disorders’ in substance use disorders (SUD) treatment.
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