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Applying Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy to Addiction Treatment

By the time individuals enter young adulthood, their belief systems have been shaped by early experiences, although their brains are still maturing. Many young adults have adopted negative belief systems that undermine their self-esteem and self-efficacy and often do not realize how these underlying beliefs about their worth affect their daily lives. Cognitive therapy is a common approach to addiction treatment; however, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy is a newer holistic approach that may be more effective in changing beliefs long-term. While cognitive therapy helps young adults identify beliefs that are holding them back, taking a mindfulness approach gives them a new perspective and gives them a new perspective and helps them to develop more self-awareness and cognitive flexibility. 

What is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy combines principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with meditation. It uses mindfulness practices, like breathing exercises and guided meditations, to quiet negative thoughts and reduce feelings of anxiety that trigger cravings for substances. While traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy encourages individuals to challenge negative beliefs and replace them with a more realistic perspective, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy helps them develop healthier coping mechanisms to use when these beliefs arise. Although you may not be able to change what you think, you can change how you respond. 

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MCBT) enables people to learn to become more aware of bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings associated with negative emotions. This approach is founded on the belief that symptoms of depression and anxiety are reinforced by automatic modes of thinking and the body’s fight-or-flight response in stressful situations. By strengthening communication between areas of the brain responsible for emotions and rational decision-making, tension in the body can be released. Mindfulness practices are beneficial for the mind and body.

How can it be used during addiction treatment?

The main goal of MCBT is to help individuals learn to respond to cravings and stress in more productive ways than using drugs or alcohol. Rather than focusing on substances itself, MCBT addresses reasons that people turn to substances and learning how to meet their needs in alternative ways. Addiction is reinforced by reward circuits in the brain as substances can lead to a rush of positive emotions. Sitting in silence and becoming more aware of your surroundings can have a similar effect on your brain’s chemistry without negative side effects. 

Goals of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy:

  • Identifying negative emotions and how they lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. 
  • Detaching meaning from negative emotions and the expectation that they will always lead to negative outcomes.
  • Increasing self-awareness and recognizing the connection between one’s inner world and one’s experiences. 
  • Regaining control over the body and mind by training yourself to respond differently and recognizing the connection between the two. 
  • Reconnecting to the present moment and letting go of past shame and future fears. 
  • Reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and traumatic stress by giving people the tools they need to manage their emotions more effectively.
  • Improving overall wellbeing by improving physical health and increasing one’s confidence.

Types of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy:

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. This is one of the most widespread forms of MCBT that is designed to help people respond more effectively to stress, anxiety, depression, and pain.  
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy focuses on acknowledging negative feelings and emotions rather than avoiding them. 
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. One of the core elements of DBT is focusing on mindfulness strategies, including acceptance and emotion regulation. 

Other Mindfulness-Based Practices may include:

  • Meditation: ranging from deep or controlled breathing to guided meditations.
  • Yoga: from gentle, restorative styles to faster-paced, energizing styles
  • Martial Arts: focuses on building inner strength and physical and emotional control

Red Mountain Sedona is a transitional program for young adults ages 18 to 28. Red Mountain Sedona is a transitional program designed to help young adults with behavioral and/or emotional challenges “launch” into fulfilling and productive adult lives. We integrate mindful living practices into our program to help students develop a healthier lifestyle and more positive mindset. This program provides a safe environment where our students can let their guards down in order to experience true healing. This environment allows them to learn the benefits of being themselves and gain strength to change. 

Call (855) 998-5272 for more information. We can help your family today!