Learning Mindfulness Meditation in an Addiction Rehab

Learning Mindfulness Meditation in an Addiction Rehab

Mindfulness meditation involves meditation with a “mindful” or an aware consciousness that allows you to have a “presence of mind” while calming yourself down. As in the case of Alcoholics Anonymous or AA and its 12-step program, mindfulness meditation has links to spirituality and religion. While AA is more Christian-based, mindfulness meditation is more linked from Buddhist Vipassana meditation practices with a Western Medicine “twist” to it.

 This meditation type can be used effectively when it comes to addiction treatment rehabilitation, especially in light of the positive feedback and peer-reviewed studies it has received that prove its effectiveness. In particular, the MBSR or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program makes extensive use of it, serving as the keystone behind the psychotherapy treatment. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of mindfulness meditation as used in Western Medicine, also developed the MBSR in 1979.

 The meditation technique was developed to teach patients who have chronic mental and physical health issues the secret to using “mind over matter” in order to improve their lives for the better.

 More about Mindfulness Meditation

 Mindfulness meditation is all about taking your consciousness at the back seat so that it doesn’t need to drive your proverbial car. Remember this as you make your attempts to find your center of calm that should allow you to disappear into what’s known as “The Moment”.

 According to Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness refers to paying attention to something in a specific manner. In other words:

  • Being Purposefully Mindful: You should practice mindfulness on purpose. You should have presence of mind during the so-called present moment. You should pay attention to this moment in a non-judgmental or objective manner so as to not trigger your emotions and bias.


  • Acceptance and Awareness: Your mindfulness should inspire you to be self-aware and accepting of your various feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations as they happen. You should let things happen and don’t resist. From there, you should also acknowledge that feelings are impermanent or fleeting.


  • Not About Suppression or Modification: Those who practice mindfulness meditation are trained to identify and recognize their experiences without letting their emotions get the better of them. In other words, they’re taught to avoid suppression or modification of the experiences as well.


  • Reperceiving or Attentional Control: Your relationship with your present-moment experience can be changed through reperceiving or attentional control of it. This technique allows you to practice more mindfulness in your behavioral choices.


  • Independence of Religious or Cultural Background: Although meditation is rooted in religion, mindfulness meditation is the Western Medicine adaptation of the practice. This means that this set of skills can be taught to anyone who’s non-Buddhist regardless of religious or cultural background.


Forms of Mindfulness Meditation Interventions

 There are various forms of interventions involving mindfulness meditation, such as:

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: MBSR is presently used as adjunctive treatment for a variety of conditions and disorders. The increasing ubiquitousness of MBSR is also how it found its way into drug and alcohol addiction rehab. This psychotherapy approach was developed to teach you to become more self-aware and mindful in order to prevent alcoholism relapse or going into a downward spiral by giving into withdrawal symptoms.


  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: As for ACT, it’s yet another psychotherapy technique, cognitive-behavior therapy, or clinical behavior analysis (CBA) that helps patients to open up to unpleasant feelings when it comes to realizing their addiction problems. ACT keeps them from being overwhelmed by their negative emotions, thus preventing them from overreacting to the stimuli. It also teaches them to avoid situations that trigger such unpleasant feelings that could lead to relapse.


  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention: Speaking of preventing alcoholism relapse, there’s also a specific mindfulness-based meditation practice that involves recent changes in terms of mindfulness techniques developed for the sake of keeping addicts from relapsing after their rehab. This is a more individualized type of therapy for alcohol and drug addicts as opposed to ACT and MBSR that deal more with certain complications related to addiction.


  • Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Community: The MBTC treatment is yet another type of mindfulness meditation method created particularly for populations who are substance abusers. Instead of just keeping you from relapsing, this meditation outright treats your addictive tendencies and bad habits by combining mindfulness therapy techniques with group therapy.


History of Western Medicine’s Adaptation of Mindfulness Meditation


Businessman meditating in yoga lotus pose on floor


How come the western medical community has adopted something so esoteric or rooted to religion as meditation? Their keen interest in the technique and developing it to suit western medical practices root from promising studies and results in regards to the effectiveness of the technique, especially when it comes to fighting against drug and alcohol abuse, dependence, addiction, and relapse.

  • It’s Proven by Western Medicine as Effective: Meditation, like massage therapy and osteopath-rooted chiropractic care, is a lot less unscientific or pseudoscientific upon closer inspection. Medical experts in the field of drug and alcohol rehab as well as stress management were able to acquire worthwhile and provable benefits from mindful meditation even when they made it more secular and less rooted to spirituality or religion.


  • The Mental Aspect of Alcoholism Recovery: The rising popularity of meditation in general and mindfulness meditation in particular when it comes to rehabilitating drug and alcohol addiction is because the mindfulness movement has proven itself among rehab experts when dealing with the mental aspect of alcoholism recovery. According to Kabat-Zinn’s best-selling meditation book, “Wherever You Go, There You Are” there are a number of western medicine applications when it comes to mindfulness meditation.


  • Easier Said Than Done: The potent power of alcohol over alcoholics and how it can alter brain chemistry can be quite daunting to overcome, so much so that it’s understandable if you have doubts in regards to using “mere” meditation to overcome your drug dependence or alcoholic relapses due to withdrawal symptoms. However, once you get the hang of meditating, it takes advantage of the fact that most addicts attempt to go somewhere else emotionally and mentally in order to cope with their “inner demons”.


  • The Mind of an Alcoholic: The mind of an alcoholic is typically focused on how to get more alcohol by taking the steps needed to buy the product, consuming it, and then recovering from its direct and indirect effects. These telltale signs of addiction can be found whether the specific type of attachment or addiction is for alcohol, shopping, drugs, food, or sex. This is just how the mind of an addict operates. It’s a mess when it comes to your life priorities because your mind is merely focused on fulfilling your impulses and substance cravings.


  • The Lack of Present Self-Awareness: The lack of self-awareness and presence of mind on the addict’s part comes from his hyper-focus or obsession with what they’re addicted to, whether the substance is drugs or alcohol or some sort of pleasurable activity. There’s little to no awareness of what’s happening in the present except attempts to fulfill their addictive tendencies and any feelings of agitation when these feelings are unfulfilled.


  • How to Deal with Addiction through Meditation: Mindfulness addiction can help the addict out by making him aware that most of his time is spent in getting rid of his agitation over not consuming drugs or alcohol. Mindfulness in this context refers to a non-judgmental presence of mind when it comes to what’s happening to you at present. Being judgmental or ashamed of your addiction can lead you to overreacting to your impulses, thoughts, and feelings.


Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

 Acknowledgement and acceptance of your addiction to drugs and alcohol is a powerful act. Knowing how to properly react to this realization without being overrun by your emotions to the point of self-destruction and a worsening state of alcoholism and drug dependence is how a properly run mindfulness meditation service should go about.

This stress-relieving therapy teaches you to react better to your emotions and the triggers around you because more often than not your overreactions are what led you to depend on illicit or addictive substances to better cope with life. Meditation, in other words, can assist you in having more control over your life rather than letting drugs and alcohol take control of it for you.

Mindfulness meditation typically involves the following effects:

  • Transforming he way you respond to live events
  • A measure of spiritual awareness
  • Being aware of the contents of consciousness
  • Detached observation of yourself and your surroundings
  • Powerful cognitive behavioral coping strategy


When you practice mindfulness meditation, you can enjoy the following advantages:

  • Increasing your sense of self-compassion
  • Getting anxiety therapy
  • Decreasing your sense of self-pity
  • Bettering your immune function
  • Reducing your stress
  • Decreasing your potential for affective disorders
  • Preventing relapse


 How Does Mindfulness Meditation Help You Out with Addiction?

 Yes. The longer answer is that meditating in order to learn to have better self-awareness and dealing with uncomfortable feelings without overreacting or withdrawing with your addiction to substances as your coping mechanism will pay dividends to your addiction recovery. This is because training yourself to react to your feelings objectively on autopilot helps you deal with one of the many potential reasons why you’ve ended up addicted to drugs and alcohol in the first place.

Truth be told, achieving self-awareness should serve as your main tool to ensure addiction recovery. To be more specific, this meditation type can pay dividends when it comes to dealing with the following:

  • Relapse
  • Negative response
  • Overreaction
  • Side effects
  • Addictive behaviors
  • Cravings
  • Bad habits


Ironically, acceptance and tolerance of the present moment without attempting to change it, alter your perception of it, or judging it can lead you to having the courage to make the required changes in your life to recover from issues like addiction. As far as addicts are concerned, unpleasant feelings might happen from modified behaviors.

What Mindfulness Meditation Actually Entails


yoga woman on green grass in lotus pose


Mindfulness meditation occurs after the three-week detoxification process is over and you’ve already dealt with most of the worst withdrawal symptoms. This is around the time you’re already feeling physical relief from overcoming the pain of not taking in drugs or alcohol after a period of abstinence. Meditating is called for in order to safeguard and treat the mental health of the addict. Long-term recovery entails group gatherings and the following instructions:

  • 15-Minute Group Session of Mindfulness Meditation: When undergoing mindfulness meditation, it typically beings with the guru ringing a bell. This signifies the beginning of your 15 minutes of silence. You may struggle to find peace in such a setting, but your guru or guide will help you through by relevant advice and loads of patience. You will initially be filled with anxiety over not getting drugs or alcohol.


When undergoing group meditation, you’re led by your guide with all sorts of instructions. The group setting allows you to feel more at ease, seeing fellow addicts struggle towards finding their inner peace and self-awareness along with you. The guru’s ringing of the bell can help you get into a meditative stance because after it stops ringing and you’re greeted with silence, you can plunge yourself towards being aware of the moment.

  • Breathing Exercises and Reaching Tranquility: After you’ve come into contact with your center of calm, letting your feelings of shame, guilt, or impulsiveness wash away, you can then focus on what’s happening around you at present. It’s around this point that the guide tells you to take notice of your breath. Focus on how you’re breathing instead of indulging in idle or negative thoughts. Keep taking note of your breath.


Focusing on your breath should assist you in sinking into mindfulness and tranquility. Your guru can then further assist you in keeping up your calmness with gentle reminders to focus on the sound of your breathing. It’s a simple yet powerful way to keep those frantic thoughts and addictive ideas from ruining your meditation. It clears your mind from the distraction of psychological baggage, relapse symptoms, and feelings of impulsiveness.

  • Avoiding Thinking That You’re Cornered: The negative feedback loop of addiction happens due to addicts overreacting to their altered brain chemistry from abusing drugs or alcoholic, leading them towards obsessive behavior beyond their control. They’re likelier to react negatively to situations in desperation, as though they’re cornered and unable to escape their own cravings. You need to therefore meditate to behave in a less impulsive or rash manner.


 Mindfulness meditation is essentially your substitute for drugs and alcohol as your coping mechanism for stress and overreacting to your problems and situation. You can improve your chances for addiction recovery by using meditation to better facilitate your stress response. It’s a means for you to avoid thinking that you’re indulging in self-destructive thoughts. It teaches you how to be more neutral to stimuli or triggers as well as the feelings you’re experiencing. This then makes you more relaxed and neutral with your decision-making.

  • Negative Thinking Makes Your Situation Worse: Self-awareness by meditation allows you to relax and not overthink your situation. Paranoia and panicking over dilemmas can overwhelm you so much to turn to the bottle or pills for relief. Before you smoke that bong or snort those lines of coke on glass, learn relaxation by meditation. Don’t allow negative thinking to make whatever problems you’re facing worse.


Thinking negatively or pessimistically isn’t thinking in a realistic manner. It can be every bit as delusional as thinking optimistically and lying about the grimness of a situation. Panicking or giving in to your darkest thoughts and most intense feelings can lead to addiction or worsen an existing addiction. Solve your problems by training yourself to not be plunged into despair by them so that you won’t end up using substance abuse to escape your issues.

  • Learning to Tolerate Unpleasantness: The post-detox stage of your rehab requires you to develop better mental tolerance against unpleasantness. Learning to relax is only the first step. You should learn to tolerate strong emotion before acting and giving into your mind’s impulses. You should have more control of yourself.


You should become psychologically mature enough to handle guilt, grief, the unfairness of life, anger, sadness, disappointment, and so forth without overreacting or needing drugs and alcohol to cope with these potent feelings. Meditation assists in calming you down, helping you perceive stimuli in a more positive manner, and reducing your stress.

Mindfulness Meditation in a Nutshell

You can use mindfulness meditation in a group setting in order to be able to share experiences with each other while also providing mutual support as you undergo the process of meditative stress reduction. It’s also something that can be practised individually at your office or home, during break times or your free time. As long as your guru has shown you the right way to do it or if you have an instruction book on hand, then you should be able to do it by yourself.

It’s the nature of the mind to be active at all times, so meditation is necessary in order to teach you to be patient with yourself and your consciousness until you get into that relaxed trance. Of course, this is easier said than done. You’re fighting against your very nature in order to go from idle thoughts to concentrating only on your breath. Boredom or a nagging problem at the back of your mind can keep you from reaching that Zen state of mind.

Mindfulness Meditation Program at Lanna Rehab in Thailand

Contact Lanna Rehab toll-free ASAP in order to get free consultation and quotes for their Thailand-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that uses mindfulness meditation techniques among many other methods so that your first step towards sobriety is a surefooted one. The center prides itself for its international-grade offerings and effective usage of mindfulness-based stress reduction for the sake of achieving full addiction recovery and relapse defense. Their lines are open 24/7.

Martin Peters

Martin Peters has a BA (Hons) Dip HE Dip RN CSAT III and is the Group Program Director Lanna Healthcare. He is a Registered Nurse and Certified Substance Abuse Therapist working in the mental health field since 1994; Martin has had a wide range of experience in management and supervisory roles within established healthcare systems, and has provided consultancy services to a number of private and public sector organizations in the UK and Asia in terms of management, policy writing, accreditation and recruitment. Martin’s addictions experience has been in developing inpatient services in Thailand since 2009, both clinical and operational. He has been instrumental in expanding and developing a non 12 step inpatient treatment centre and opening a further inpatient centre with a 12 step approach, implementing KIPU Electronic Records, strengthening hospital partnerships, introducing a Scholarship for students under the Masters in Addiction Studies Program at The ASEAN Institute for Health Development and working with an international accreditation body. Martin has also been a speaker at several international conferences on addiction, including ASEAN conferences and has also guest lectured at Mahidol University (Thailand), University of Sarghoda (Pakistan) Institute of Medical Sciences (Pakistan) and has been a representative on the CARF Standards Advisory Committee for 2016.In 2015. Martin became a Co-Founder of Lanna Healthcare, launching Lanna Rehab in March 2016 and opening Jintra in January 2018. In June of 2018, Martin was involved in the merger of Lanna and DARA, becoming Thailand's biggest private licensed operator. Martin is currently a Joint and Asia Health Co Ltd Owner Operator of Lanna Healthcare Co Ltd, which under its umbrella manages Lanna Rehab in Chiang Mai, Jintra Rehab in Chiang Mai and DARA Rehab in Koh Chang - all Thailand MoPH Licensed Addiction Facilities providing world-class treatment in Thailand.

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