Focusing on the present for an addition-free future: a mindfulness practice can help break the cycle of substance abuse

Mindfulness is a well-established method for reducing stress, and now its potential to help individuals dealing with addiction is also coming to light. A 2014 University of Washington study, for instance, found that mindfulness meditation was more effective at preventing relapses of drug and alcohol abuse than conventional methods, such as 12-step programs and cognitive behavioral therapy. In 2016, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, reported that mindfulness was better at helping people recover from addiction to stimulants than health education.

“It helps calm emotions and stressors that may contribute to substance abuse,” says Amy Segerstrom, MS, LPC, Coordinator of The Healing Place at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. “Certain exercises invite people into a healthy relationship with their heart and body. Other techniques can help people ride the wave of craving and regard the impulse to use as a moment that will pass, as well as an invitation to reset the mind.”

GETTING STARTED

If you are interested in trying mindfulness, the body scan is a good technique to begin with. While seated, close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply, and spend a few moments focusing on each area of the body and how it feels, beginning with your feet. Devote your attention to relaxing each limb and muscle group as you gradually work up to the muscles in your face. When you are finished, open your eyes and let your mind and body slowly reawaken. Although

The Healing Place does not treat addiction, it offers mindfulness programs that may be helpful to patients who are in the recovery process. If you are receiving treatment for addiction, ask your provider if a referral for mindfulness training is right for you. To learn more about The Healing Place, call 715.717.6028.

The Healing Place is now located at 2125 Heights Drive in Eau Claire, on the first floor of HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital’s Professional Plaza building. We welcome individuals who are dealing with life transitions to participate in our support groups, workshops, and educational programs. Clients who need mobility assistance will find the location much more convenient than our previous home, with parking close to the entrance and a level entryway for ease of access.

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