Mindfulness is a buzz word these days. When you hear it, the word may remind you of meditation and yoga. But what does it really mean to be mindful? According to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book “Full Catastrophe Living,” mindfulness is basically “paying attention in a particular way–on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” While being mindful is a challenge for most people, doing so can be particularly tough for those who have addictive behaviors. Despite the challenges of mindfulness, it is a state that can be especially helpful, which is why we at Gateway Foundation Chicago Independence use Mindfulness-Based Sobriety as part of our addiction therapy services.

What Is Mindfulness-Based Sobriety?

Calm smiling woman engaging in mindfulness-based sobriety at GatewayMindfulness-Based Sobriety is a treatment program focused on preventing relapse by using mindful meditation combined with regular relapse prevention steps. This type of program is distinctive because it uses techniques such as:

  • Self-compassion
  • Acceptance of experiences
  • Nonjudgmental observances
  • Teaching methods for staying present
  • Paying attention to breathing

Traditional addiction treatment programs often teach avoidance. For example, your addiction counselor would tell you to avoid thinking about the drug or thing that you crave. The theory is that thinking about what you’re addicted to may trigger a relapse.

This is a concept that mindfulness sobriety challenges. Instead, counselors encourage clients to accept that they will have cravings and urges. Having them is normal. With this type of program, you will learn how to manage those urges and cravings.

What Does Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Treatment Look Like?

If you decide to go with mindfulness to stay sober, then your counselor will prompt you to stop using labels like addict, diseased, alcoholic, druggie, broken, and powerless.

When you enter a mindfulness-based program, you’ll receive tools to help you think about your addiction differently. Sometimes, people who have an addiction tell themselves a story. For instance, if your drug of choice is alcohol and you receive an invite from your friends to go to a restaurant that serves it, you may start thinking that you would order a drink and would not be able to stop drinking. With Mindfulness-Based Sobriety, you’ll have the tools to recognize that this is just a story. You’ll be able to see that you have the choice not to drink. It’s in your hands to take a different path.

Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Manages Stress

Researchers are well aware of the connection between addiction and stress. According to a government report, stress makes it more likely that an individual will turn to alcohol or drug use to deal with it. Because of this research, clinicians are turning to stress-management techniques like mindfulness.

The goal is to help those who suffer from addiction replace it with coping skills that are healthy instead of harmful. Mindfulness meditations can be helpful, but adding a 20- or 30-minute meditation to one’s day can be a challenge. Dr. Jack Kornfield developed a simple meditation that is often effective. The Kornfield meditation states, “May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be happy.” Those in mindfulness-based treatments can repeat the mantra three times while focusing on the breath.

Mindfulness-Based Sobriety Can Help

Gateway Foundation Chicago Independence has Residential and Outpatient treatment options available. We have shifted away from the belief that 12-step recovery is the only way to go and now support other treatment methods. These include:

To us, relapse prevention therapy is as important as the initial treatment, which is one of the reasons why we offer a Mindfulness-Based Sobriety approach. We also offer Acceptance and Commitment Therapy at our centers. You can overcome addiction by turning to a quality drug treatment facility. Give Gateway Foundation Chicago Independence a call at 773.826.1916. We have a treatment that is sure to work for you.