As a professional, your life is busy and stressful. You may be constantly up against deadlines or up against the daily challenges of treating patients. Increasing your awareness of your own thoughts and feelings as well as of the environment around you can help you in many areas of your life, including in your efforts to overcome addiction to drugs or alcohol. Such an awareness can be developed through mindfulness training, which in turn can help you in your recovery.
Paying Attention on Purpose
Mindfulness has been described as the act of paying attention on purpose. Mindfulness is being in the present moment, focusing on your thoughts without judging them. When you practice mindfulness, you maintain an awareness of your inner thoughts and feelings as well as the sensations of your physical body. You also gain a clearer awareness of the people and environment around you.
When you practice mindfulness, you tune into what you are sensing in the present moment without stressing over the future or voicing regrets over the past. Although meditation and mindfulness are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. Meditation is one method used to practice mindfulness.
The Stress Connection
Substance abuse can be an unhealthy reaction to stress, particularly among professionals. In research studies, mindfulness training has been linked to lower stress levels and greater positive states of mind. It has been proven that once you learn to handle stress in a healthier manner, recovery becomes much more achievable.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) at an inpatient drug treatment program found positive results in mindfulness training among participants after just eight weeks. Mindfulness training resulted in decreases in stress and cravings and improvement in the participants’ ability to stay clean and sober, as long as six months after the program.
Addiction is often the result of self-medicating through pain, whether physical or emotional. Mindfulness training can help the professional work through recovery and overcome that pain, by increasing awareness of cues and contexts around substance abuse. By practicing mindfulness, you become more aware of the actual act of taking medication or drinking whereas normally you would take the drugs or alcohol without thinking about the act or the consequences.
Research shows that patients who practice mindfulness become more aware of their escalating use of drugs and alcohol. Before mindfulness training, patients might associate increased drug use with increases in pain. After developing mindfulness, patients become more aware that their increase in medication is an attempt to self-medicate through adverse emotions or as a response to triggers.
Mindfulness training helps contribute to a long-term and sustainable healthy behavior that promotes addiction recovery and prevents relapse. As you move through your hectic day, triggers and cravings will be abundant. When you have the right coping skill, such as mindfulness training, you are equipped to manage your stress, manage your pain, and manage the temptations to relapse.
As you develop appropriate mindfulness tools, you learn how to monitor your affective state and gain a deeper understanding of how increased stress and other negative emotions can increase the risk of relapse. You can use your mindfulness training to focus on the reasons you want to continue in your recovery and to not relapse.
Being aware of the craving or trigger and making a conscious decision, on purpose, to not give in will be invaluable in your recovery. Mindfulness training should be paired with other coping mechanisms that will help you through a successful recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.
Providence Treatment Place a High Priority on Mindfulness Training for Professionals
Providence Treatment’s co-founder, Dr. William Heran, has over 30 years of experience practicing mindfulness-type techniques. We specialize in addiction treatment for professionals and we know the effect that getting help has on one’s career. Our clients are lawyers, doctors, pilots, business executives and professionals from many other industries. Each of our client’s needs are unique, so we assess their situation to determine the best path forward.
If needed, and with your permission, we work closely with licensing boards while helping you gain the tools you’ll need for a sustainable, long-term recovery. The addiction treatment professionals at Providence Treatment see the power of recovery every day. Recovery can be transformative in your professional life, but you must take the first step to get help.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness training and addiction treatment for professionals, contact Providence Treatment at 484-469-9592.