Applying Mindfulness to Dual Diagnosis: What You Need to Know

Applying Mindfulness to Dual Diagnosis: What You Need to Know

Dual diagnoses occur when a substance use disorder (SUD) and a mental illness (such as anxiety, depression, etc.) occur at the same time. For many people, the symptoms of each disorder may overlap – and this can make it more challenging to treat. Mindfulness has been proven to help many people with dual diagnoses and involves awareness of the present moment without judgment. With mindfulness, those in addiction recovery can learn to observe their thoughts, feelings and behaviors without placing meaning to anything in particular. In a sense, we become observers of our own mind, body and spirit – and in doing so, it can change our lives for the better.

In 2016, researchers published a study in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy to explore how mindfulness compares with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in those who were in recovery from SUDs, traumatic stress and a psychiatric disorder. Participants from the study were placed into 10-week treatment programs of either mindfulness, CBT, or treatment as usual. The results from the study confirmed that mindfulness-based treatment was actually more successful than CBT at helping participants reduce cravings and traumatic stress symptoms, which means that mindfulness shows great promise for those in recovery. How exactly does mindfulness work?

Researcher Sarah Bowen from the University of Washington told the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley in 2014 that mindfulness can help people recognize their thought patterns for what they really are; in fact, Bowen recalled the story of a woman who had participated in mindfulness-based treatment. She recalled the woman’s experience: “She stopped to observe her present experience. In this pause, Sophia realized that she had a choice: She didn’t have to believe her mind’s story about what was going to happen; she had the choice to not drink.”

The story went on to describe that whenever Sophia – the participant who learned about mindfulness – experienced anxiety, cravings, and more associated with dual diagnoses – she was able to apply the principles of mindfulness, which are noted by the University of Washington as:

·    Understanding that the practice itself is simple, but it’s not easy

·    Learning to practice non-judgment in one’s experiences

·    Being an open learner

·    Trusting in oneself and one’s feelings as part of the process

·    While meditating, not having a particular goal in mind

·    Seeing things just as they are

·    Letting go

·    Patience

If you’re ready to incorporate mindfulness as part of your dual diagnosis recovery, call the Beach House today.

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.

Saving Lives; Healing Families.

Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.