Links Between Mindfulness and Addiction Recovery

There’s scientific evidence that the ancient practice of mindfulness benefits substance abuse recovery.

Mindfulness — in conjunction with the 12 Steps — is a great addition to your recovery journey, this practice teaches you how to sit with your thoughts and how to learn from them.

The links between mindfulness and addiction can reshape our brains in a positive way.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a meditation practice introduced by Buddhism more than 2,500 years ago.

The goal of this system is to become aware of your thoughts including your own reactions and emotions without getting attached to anything.

It’s essentially learning to be present within your own life. This will be beneficial on your recovery journey because it helps you develop an appreciation for even the most daunting tasks.

It’s proven that adopting a mindful practice helps manage anxiety, by establishing a greater self-awareness, which helps us acknowledge and work through our emotions.

Developing a Mindfulness Practice

The best thing about developing a mindfulness practice is you can start it anywhere, anytime with very little energy or change to your daily routine.

You just need to have an open mind to experience the world with a slightly different mindset. There are a few core concepts to remember when practicing mindfulness.

First, the practice tries to recognize when you’re running on “autopilot.” It’s important to exercise observing your surroundings and how they make you feel.

This is particularly helpful for those in addiction recovery because we’re usually master escape artists. Whatever addiction you suffer from, you most likely began using it to cope with reality- to escape.
Being present helps you grasp reality as it actually is, not how we perceive it.

Focus on The Breath

Second, focus on the breath.

Stress builds, especially throughout recovery, and we experience relapse the most often when we feel out of control. Emotions like anger and sadness can obviously lead to this feeling, so focusing on something we can control like our breathing is a good way to break the emotional cycle.

Lastly, recognize your thoughts as thoughts. Most of us barely recognize our true thoughts, they act as almost background noise in our daily life but the thoughts you have often determine the emotions you feel. Mindfulness encourages you to observe your thoughts and to let go of harmful ideologies we may have about ourselves and the world.

A lot of us in recovery have spent decades feeding negative self-talk in our minds which is destructive in multiple ways. It can lead to a lack of confidence, anxiety, and even depression which we all know can lead to relapsing.

Recognizing and challenging these thoughts helps you see yourself in a more accurate light. It will also help you expand your circle of compassion — which helps you connect to others and build stronger, healthier friendships and relationships.

These relationships positively impact our emotions which brings the entire mindfulness cycle full circle.

Understanding Mindfulness for Substance Abuse Recovery

Recent scientific studies have shown the links between daily mindfulness practice and those in addiction recovery have significantly advanced throughout the last decade.

Studies show mindful based interventions can decrease substance misuse by regulating internal reward systems.

Techniques like meditation can teach you how to deal with negative self-talk to break trauma cycles within your recovery journey.

Mindfulness practice can be used in conjunction with more traditional therapies.

This practice is about self-empowerment, it gives you the tools to handle any situation throughout both life and your recovery journey.

It promotes acceptance of both self, and those around you while teaching you to deescalate feelings of stress, all making the recovery process easier.

Mindfulness also helps aid in the treatment of depression and anxiety which often occur within the recovery process.

While it’s not a stand-alone treatment for some people, mindfulness practices enhance traditional therapies.

Studies report, even long after traditional therapies are done mindfulness practices remain habits that improve the quality of life long after treatment is completed.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool. It can be used throughout our recovery journey in conjunction with more traditional therapies but it will also create habits that benefit your quality of life, forever.

Mindfulness and 12-step based substance abuse recovery can go hand-in-hand.



While Burning Tree Ranch has been helping the chronic relapser since 1999, the company uses what it has learned about addiction in their 30-90 day program.

Renewal Lodge, located outside of Austin, Texas, focuses on high accountability, life skills, clinical support and 12-step immersion.

What sets Renewal Lodge apart from other treatment programs is its integrated treatment approach combining evidence-based mindfulness and 12 step modalities.

Both practices are implemented into Renewal Lodge programming to allow clients the opportunity to explore and develop highly effective actions supportive of quality, long-term recovery.


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