Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention

With the looming threat of relapse being an occurrence amongst those in recovery, a lot of effort goes into finding better ways to prevent relapse. There are no guarantees in life, but some methods are simply more effective. One method that studies are showing a lot of success with is called Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, or MBRP. Ultimately, success in recovery will be up to the individual. This is why MBRP is so successful, as it gives ownership to the individual for their own success. 

What is MBRP?

The main idea of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention is to take the core ideas from common Relapse Prevention techniques, but add the concept of mindfulness, which is also taught with stress reduction and used in cognitive therapy during treatment. Just like other relapse prevention methods, identifying high-risk situations for potential relapse is still at the core. 

In MBRP, we are taught to identify early warning signs, increase our awareness of emotional or intellectual cues, and also to identify cues that are directly tied to previous substance use. We are encouraged to develop coping skills and find a belief in ourselves to be able to maintain our recovery. The objective is to make us as self-sufficient as possible in our recovery, taking responsibility for our actions.

shutterstock 394542460 Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention

Why Use Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the powerful tool of acceptance and being present in the moment. Because it is so commonly being used in multiple types of therapy, it is a natural fit for relapse prevention. During treatment, we learn to be present and see things for what they are, no judgment. Mindfulness can help us see where we are presently, whether we are having cravings or otherwise thinking about substance use. 

Mindfulness is particularly helpful in managing cravings, for example, as it is a skill that we can use to learn to accept and tolerate the consequences of what is happening. This decreases our need to act on a craving by indulging in a substance. Obviously, it is a skill that is honed through experience. But when practiced throughout our lives, it transforms us from simply reacting to “skillful responding.” By training our minds to be in the present and re-training our reactions to everything around us, mindfulness becomes an ideal skill to have to maintain recovery both emotionally and physically.

How Does MBRP Help Prevent Relapses?

By combining the basic concepts of relapse prevention with the powerful tools of mindfulness, we create an ideal, self-sufficient method to maintain our recovery. MBRP helps us to identify triggers but also gives us the tools to neutralize those triggers once identified. According to a study done in 2012, comparing MBRP to the treatment, as usual, those who used MBRP had a significant improvement over the others in terms of substance use, craving, awareness, and acceptance. A significant difference was the way relapse prevention was viewed. Instead of avoiding or suppressing cravings, MBRP teaches tolerance and response to them, which leads to a more positive outcome. There is a lot of research that shows suppression and avoidance is actually more harmful in the long run.

Also of note was the decrease in the severity of the cravings, as MBRP trains us to accept and tolerate positive and negative effects without reacting, the cravings actually lose some of their power over us. MBRP is not just a mind over matter skill set, it is a matter of training our minds to have control over our bodies, environment, emotions, and more. MBRP is powerful in preventing relapses because it addresses potential relapses from every possible angle and gives us the control to navigate our experiences.

Why Does Taking Responsibility for Recovery Work?

Some recoveries are based on an accountability system, where we report to others our progress and lean on others in times of need. While it is always ideal to have a support system in place, cravings often hit at inopportune moments. Triggers can happen when no one else is around. So ideally, we should have a self-sufficient system in place to help us manage our own recovery. We can still seek support from others as needed, but we will have our own mental armor with MBRP to be able to maintain our recovery around the clock.

Taking responsibility for ourselves is an ideal tenet of the human experience. Those who take responsibility for themselves are productive, happy and successful at what they do. Imagine being able to truly take responsibility for our own recovery. Obviously, there are still resources and support available, and reaching out for support is actually part of being responsible. However, self-managing our recovery helps us to be more successful in tolerating cravings and triggers, which in turn improves our self-confidence. We know we are not alone, but we also have the confidence to face it alone when necessary.

After doing the work to stop our substance use, discover and address the reasons that we used substances, and learn so many new skills to help us, protecting our recovery should be a high priority in our lives. With Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, we offer ourselves one of the best sets of tools to prevent relapses, as well as owning our recovery. We can be self-sufficient and ultimately more successful at recovery and in life. We just need to make that call today.

Fortify yourself against relapses at AToN Center. Call (888) 535-1516 right now to gain the skills you need to succeed at recovery now and for your lifetime.


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