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If you haven’t heard of Mindfulness, it’s a form of meditation designed to bring greater awareness to your mind and body, allowing you to separate your thoughts from your emotions.
For years, Mindfulness has been used to help manage cravings; more recently, mindfulness-based interventions have been used to specifically target cravings to bring about relevant changes to behavior.
According to a new review from City University of London, mindfulness meditation strategies can help to prevent cravings for food and drugs including cigarettes and alcohol.
Dr. Katy Tapper, Author of the review and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at City University of London said, “The research suggests that certain mindfulness-based strategies may help prevent or interrupt cravings by occupying a part of our mind that contributes to the development of cravings. Whether mindfulness strategies are more effective than alternative strategies, such as engaging in visual imagery, has yet to be established. However, there is also some evidence to suggest that engaging in regular mindfulness practice may reduce the extent to which people feel the need to react to their cravings, though further research is needed to confirm such an effect.”
Ready to give Mindfulness a try? Allow yourself at least 20 minutes and follow these three steps:
- Sit in a comfortable chair
- Put your attention on how you’re breathing
- When your mind begins to wander, bring your attention back to how you’re breathing
Practicing Mindfulness is simple, but not easy. Staying focused on your breathing keeps you in the present moment, but it can take 20 minutes or more to settle your mind. The more you practice, the better your ability to use Mindfulness as a tool to manage – possibly even prevent – cravings for the substances that challenge your recovery every day.
Your recovery should come first. Don’t make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It’s one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, and continues to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go.
Rehab is about getting rid of the toxins that affect your life in a negative way. During detox, the physical substances that have been causing harm to your body will be flushed out in order to restore a neuro-chemical and physiological balance. During treatment, you will learn more about the relationships in your life and what kind of toxic aspects they may carry. Removing toxic people from your life is equally as important as removing the toxic chemicals, though in some cases, it may prove even more difficult. Ultimately however, excising toxic people from your life is going to prove beneficial to your overall mental, emotional, and physical health in the long term.
“People who are not happy with themselves cannot possibly be happy with you.”
What’s a Boundary Anyway?
Boundaries are limits we set in relationships to take care of ourselves. They are guidelines we establish for people in our lives that teach them how to treat us. Boundaries are ours and ours alone, no one can set them for us, nor can we set other peoples. They are not attempts to control someone’s behavior. They are not contracts, threats, or ultimatums.
Codependent is a word that is thrown around rather loosely, but what does it really mean to be codependent? By definition a codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior. As you might imagine most people are not fond of this definition and do not want to see themselves as either controlling or obsessed. It can be helpful to substitute the words concerned for obsessed and helping for controlling, as those words tend to be more palatable to most.
The reality is the only way someone suffering from substance use disorder can continue their addiction is if someone else is cleaning up the wreckage of it. In its truest form codependency is obsessive ‘helping”, doing things for another adult that they can and should be doing for themselves.
There are many benefits to consistently attending meetings throughout your recovery. Here are a few reasons to encourage you to stay the course:
Oftentimes, when we talk about addiction, we discuss the addict themselves. Certainly, much of treatment program centers around substance abuse, mental health, and emotional and physical recovery of the addict, but there is another important element to observe and consider. The role of the family in the addict’s life is crucial. The family, good or bad, is part of the individual’s very core foundation. Family experiences and observations throughout life can condition and impact the mental and physical health of the addict, and ultimately influence recovery, relapse, and self-ideals.
The words treatment, rehab, addiction, and addict pack a powerful punch. Sometimes so powerful we are crippled into never saying them.
Whether we are the ones seeking, or in, treatment, or are family of someone needing treatment, the notion of sharing and discussing the topic of addiction is often silenced. Whether due to social repercussions, shame or guilt of not being able to help an addict, or the fear of failure and relapse, there are a multitude of reasons one may stay silent either as an addict or as their support system.
Enabling and caregiving both involve a strong desire to love, help and nurture another person. These desires are amplified, often with a sense urgency and desperation, for those with loved ones in active addiction. The reality, however, is that many of the behaviors that seem “helpful” are actually quite the opposite. We can literally love others to death. Here we will differentiate between caregiving and enabling (which we can also refer to as “caretaking” or codependency), offering a more helpful approach to supporting your loved one in active addiction.
Addiction to alcohol and drugs affects one’s body, mind and soul. But the damage doesn’t end there. Families and friends also suffer as their loved one’s dependency progresses, stress builds, and communication starts to break down. Families need to recovery from addiction, too.
Family members and loved ones find ways to cope and adapt to the evolving lifestyle that addiction is shaping. It’s not uncommon for family members to feel imprisoned by this disease. As destructive, self-defeating behaviors increase, family members and addicts alike shift into survival mode, just trying to make it through another day of ever-worsening problems.
Alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease, not a lack of willpower, not a moral weakness, not a sign of a weak character, not a result of life’s pressures, and not a symptom of another disease or disorder. Alcoholics and addicts drink/use because they have a disease. The bio-chemical changes in their brains create a physical craving for the chemical. This makes it very difficult for them to abstain from (to choose not to use) alcohol or drugs, especially if they don’t realize that they are addicted. You may have noticed the alcoholic or addict in your life trying to “control” their alcohol/drug use in a number of ways, not realizing that the disease is deciding for them, and indirectly, you. You cannot control the alcoholic/addict, their alcohol/drug use, or their disease.