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Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was developed in 1979 by Kabat-Zinn to teach people with chronic physical and emotional health problems how to change and improve their lives. The foundation of MBSR is mindfulness meditation, an ancient discipline derived from Buddhist Vispassana meditation.

Often used as an adjunctive therapeutic modality for a number of problems and diagnoses, MBSR is making its way more and more into the formal treatment of substance use and co-occurring disorders.

The Presence Approach

Mindfulness promotes awareness and acceptance of sensations, feelings and thoughts as they arise, and encourages recognition of their transience and impermanence. Practitioners are instructed to acknowledge and accept their experiences rather than to suppress, modify or even judge them. This cultivates a unique relationship with present-moment experience: a change referred to as “reperceiving” or “attentional control”.

The Result? More mindful decisions and behavioral choices.

It’s Spiritual, Not Religious

While mindfulness is rooted in the ancient tradition of the Zen Buddhists, the core skillset associated with productive mindful practice may be developed independent of religious or cultural background. Mindfulness skills are taught utilizing a variety of interventions, particularly when brought against the complexities of mental health and substance use disorders.

Some of the mindfulness-based interventions utilized in the treatment of addictive disorders include:

  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT),
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Modifications have been made in recent years to these evidence-based approaches specifically for the treatment of substance using populations, including:

  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) and
  • Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Community (MBTC) treatment.

Let’s Consider

“Experiential avoidance” – defined as an individual’s unwillingness or refusal to maintain contact with unpleasant thoughts and experiences – has been identified in a number of cases of substance use and abuse. Studies suggest that mindfulness meditation significantly reduces experiential avoidance by fostering acceptance of thoughts and feelings moment to moment. The effect of this kind of progress on an individual’s relapse potential is obvious.


Mindfulness-Based Interventions work to support long-term addiction recovery, and experts agree that the limited – yet compelling – available evidence highlights what is simply the augury of a larger shift toward the employment of exciting and effective strategies across the wider mental health and addiction treatment spectrum.

Mindfulness-Based Treatment in Pennsylvania

Blueprints for Addiction Recovery – a fully-licensed and independently accredited PA addiction treatment network – offers mindfulness-based therapies and interventions as core psycho-educational and experiential pillars across our continuum of care. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or emotional health problems, contact our admissions team to schedule a no-obligation substance abuse and treatment assessment today.

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