kathy ireland® Recovery Centers

Mindfulness

Experts use mindfulness-based techniques in many therapeutic and alternative treatments, including those used in our various kathy ireland® Recovery Centers in communities around the country. Mindfulness decreases stress and has other health benefits that make it easier to cope with the symptoms and side effects of substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring conditions. Within a short period of time, mindfulness-based exercises can do the following:

  • Improve focus on treatment and therapy
  • Decrease physical symptoms of stress
  • Lower the risk of relapse

What Is Mindfulness?

Every day, you react to situations that occur, thoughts you have, and worries about the past or future. It becomes easy to obsess over things that you cannot control and can interfere with your recovery during treatment at a rehabilitation program. Mindfulness is about allowing yourself to experience life as it happens and all the things you feel–the good and the bad–without judgment. Instead of becoming anxious about thoughts you cannot control, mindfulness lets you experience those thoughts and acknowledge them as natural. Your progression through treatment can mean identifying and processing traumas and overwhelming emotional situations. Mindfulness helps you stay calm and focused while doing those things.

How Mindfulness Improves Recovery

Focusing on the present moment in a nonjudgmental way can improve your recovery by making it easier to avoid adverse emotional reactions. An editorial page published by Substance Abuse stated that “stress increases the likelihood of alcohol and drug use, and can precipitate relapses following treatment.” They went on to say that, “mindfulness meditation based interventions could help improve treatment outcomes in addictive disorders” by lowering stress. A few other ways that mindfulness-based techniques can benefit your recovery include:

  • Stabilizes moods
  • Improves physical health
  • Improves self-control and self-awareness
  • Increases objectivity
  • Improves concentration
  • Significantly decreases anxiety
Mindfulness
Mindfulness

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness, when combined with meditation, is helpful for individuals in treatment for substance use disorder. A paper in Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation reported that “scientific findings indicate that SUDs are driven by dysregulation of neural processes underlying reward learning and executive functioning.” The researchers found “emerging evidence suggests that mindfulness training can target these neurocognitive mechanisms to produce significant therapeutic effects on SUDs and prevent relapse.” Meditation also affects these areas of the brain and can improve cognition and encourage mood stabilization. 

Relapse prevention is an essential part of treatment and long-term recovery. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stated that “research evidence indicates that mindfulness meditation training and practice can enhance outcomes in SUDs” by improving self-awareness and coping skills. Mindfulness, when practiced successfully, encourages many healthy changes to the brain and body systems. The University of Minnesota answered the question of “How Does Mindfulness Work?” by reporting research that indicates mindfulness causes automatic relaxation responses to take place in the brain and increase the alpha brain wave activity, which in turn lowers blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration, anxiety responses while simultaneously increasing feelings of well-being.

Incorporating Mindfulness Into Everyday Activities

An excellent aspect of mindfulness is that you can use it anywhere, anytime, without interfering with your ability to go about your day. You can practice mindfulness techniques when preparing for your day, at work, or while participating in hobbies that you enjoy. Practicing mindfulness and meditation on a regular basis makes it more likely to happen automatically during stressful situations. You can incorporate mindfulness into almost any everyday activity. The continued focus on the present and how your mind and body feel will lower stress caused by worries about the past or future.

Happy woman canoeing

Mindfulness-Based Therapies for Substance Use Disorder

Few standardized mindfulness-based therapies exist because therapists often use them to enhance other evidence-based modalities like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Research in Addiction Science and Clinical Practice reported that “mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been studied as a treatment for an array addictive behaviors, including drinking, smoking, opioid misuse, and use of illicit substances like cocaine and heroin.” In addition, studies reviewed in the paper indicated that MBIs lowered the risk of substance abuse and relapse by “modulating cognitive, affective, and psychophysiological processes integral to self-regulation and reward processing.” At kathy ireland® Recovery Centers, your clinical team will use whatever therapy best fits your treatment needs.

Our various locations often pair mindfulness with other methods, including alternative therapies like: 

  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Yoga
  • Meditation

Mindfulness and Aftercare

After completing your treatment program at kathy ireland® Recovery Centers, you will continue to use the mindfulness techniques you learned at our facility. The exercises and skills you develop under the guidance of our expert therapists will enhance the effects of aftercare treatments and programs. You will continue to grow and heal while remaining in the moment. We strive to help all of our clients feel confident in their ability to maintain long-term sobriety independently. Mindfulness is one tool you can use to achieve that goal.

Before completing your program at kathy ireland® Recovery Centers the clinical team and your case manager will work together to plan your continuing care by connecting you with organizations and community-based support that can keep your recovery moving forward. If you find specific mindfulness techniques beneficial, your case manager can help you find information about community-based or private classes or groups that offer similar services.


Mindfulness is a valuable tool that can help you find mental calm and focus during treatment and continuing recovery.

Our various locations offer multiple options for integrating mindfulness-based therapy into your treatment. Learn more by calling kathy ireland® Recovery Centers today: (866) 861-9772.