What is Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention?
Substance use disorder is a pervasive and insidious disease. Through psychological and chemical means, it informs the very same mental and physiological factors which perpetuate its existence. This is where cravings come from, and it’s why recovering users feel heightened levels of stress and emotional sensitivity. The fact that many individuals with substance use issues resume using after the recovery process is complete isn’t evidence of a personal weakness, nor is it simply a character flaw. It’s a symptom of their condition, and it may be the hardest symptom to address. Preventing relapse into addiction is one of the biggest challenges faced by individuals who are using, as well as by those who are trying to provide them with much-needed support.
Mindfulness-based relapse prevention is an innovative modern modality for substance use treatment, one that is based upon centuries-old traditional practices. It coordinates smoothly with established therapies designed to address the need to use.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, in modern psychology, refers to an interpretation of a core Buddhist philosophy concerning how to pursue enlightenment. At its heart, it is the idea of focusing upon where you are in the current moment: yourself, your thoughts, and your surroundings, right here and now, observed dispassionately and without judgment. Many of our mistakes come from a constant cycle of self-doubt and personal disparagement. The mindful individual examines their own thoughts and feelings with the same sense of compassion and understanding that they would have for their closest loved ones. The common understanding of Buddhism today is that its philosophies encourage us to achieve oneness with the universe by letting go of ourselves, but the truth is exactly the opposite: we are encouraged to embrace ourselves, and to regard ourselves as being as important as everything and everybody else.
What is Relapse Prevention?
Relapse prevention is the practice of preventing potential relapses in advance of that point in a person’s individual recovery process when it is most likely to occur. Traditionally, relapse prevention involves the use of behavioral therapy, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT, and other treatments like it, revolve around assisting a recovering user in learning how to cope with stress. Rather than being targeted at a specific issue, DBT focuses on the development of widely-applicable underlying skills, skills that many people do not develop before reaching adulthood and being expected to function on their own. Clients learn how to develop coping skills, as well as how to teach themselves other useful skills in the future, improving their own quality of life and enabling themselves to confront more varied and difficult challenges independently.
Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) involves exercises in achieving and recalling a mindful state of relaxation and contentment, a state in which the solutions to problems come more readily and stand out much more clearly. If you’ve ever had a moment, while you were falling asleep when you suddenly felt at peace with yourself, when everything in your life suddenly seemed to make sense to you and you were able to resolve a new way of approaching a difficult situation, you’ve had a mindful moment. You aren’t dismissing your own concerns, or shrinking in fear from negative stimuli. You’re simply observing, and discovering new insights into how to face the challenges of everyday life. Bad thoughts aren’t judged; they’re simply allowed to pass, until more good thoughts arrive.
Mindfulness-based relapse prevention is about learning how to encourage this frame of mind at will, throughout the day. This is achieved through a simple process of meditative exercises, self-empowerment, and confidence-building, wherein the most difficult challenge is learning to be patient with one’s own progress. Evidence-based scientific studies have shown that relapse prevention programs based on principles of mindfulness and compassionate awareness reduce the frequency of substance abuse relapse by up to 86%, and the philosophy is rapidly gaining ground in mainstream recovery treatment practices across the United States.
The West Coast Vision
West Coast Recovery Centers believes in a mindfulness-based approach to self-determined recovery. In a nutshell, we understand that substance use can be connected directly to unmet needs within one’s life. We work with our clients to develop individual recovery plans, and to provide constant support as they put those plans into action. We offer a variety of therapies to defeat limiting beliefs, build self-esteem, and develop useful strategies for coping and stress management.
For more information, give us a call today at 855-927-2687. You deserve to be heard. We’re ready to listen.