Drug and alcohol addictions are serious, complex conditions. Living with an untreated substance use disorder (SUD) can damage your relationships, mental health, and physical well-being. It is almost impossible to live a healthy, fulfilling life while struggling with substance abuse.

People who live with SUD need comprehensive, holistic treatment for their mind, body, and spirit. Holistic treatment programs provide the support and treatment people need to address the emotional, physical, and behavioral aspects of substance abuse. Holistic care gives people new skills and routines that can help them maintain sobriety for life.

Mindfulness is a core component of many holistic treatment programs. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the current moment. It can help people remain grounded in the present instead of worrying about the future or regretting the past.

This article will explore how mindfulness-based relapse prevention therapy can help you get and stay sober. You will learn:

  • What mindfulness is
  • What to expect from mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) therapy
  • The benefits of using MBRP therapy in addiction treatment and recovery
  • Where to find holistic addiction treatment and support

If you or someone you love lives with substance abuse or addiction, you are not alone. Reach out to the First Step Behavioral Health team now to explore our programs or schedule an intake assessment.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a gentle, consistent awareness of what is occurring in the present moment.[1] Many people struggle to pay attention to the present. Their minds may reach backward for distant memories or fixate on the uncertainty of the future.

The practice of mindfulness encourages people to stay present. People may learn to focus on their breathing, repeat a mantra, or perform a body scan. When the mind wanders, people learn to simply return the attention to their breath or another anchor in the present.

While mindfulness may seem simple, it can be very difficult for people to shut off racing thoughts or stay grounded in the present. People must often practice mindfulness techniques for some time before they are able to do this easily.[1,2]

What is Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) Therapy?

Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) is a type of relapse prevention program. People may use MBRP as part of their addiction recovery journey. Using mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques can help people manage cravings. It can reduce negative thoughts and lower stress.[3,4]

Integrating mindfulness practices during addiction recovery can have many benefits in daily life. Here is an overview of the core aspects of this holistic approach.

Emotional awareness

People with addiction may struggle with complex emotions. Some develop depression, low self-worth, and negative thoughts. In some cases, these feelings may trigger a relapse.

Mindfulness-based relapse prevention therapy teaches people to sit with their challenging emotions. When people develop more awareness of their feelings, they may be able to identify their origins. This can help them find new, healthy ways of coping with them.

Living in the present

An awareness of the present is one of the most essential aspects of MBRP. It is common for people to struggle with feelings of regret, guilt, and shame about the past. Many have significant anxiety about an uncertain future.

MBRP uses mindful meditation to help people remain grounded in the present moment. By learning to anchor themselves in the present, people can feel more in control of their emotions.

Awareness of cravings

The vast majority of people in addiction recovery will experience cravings. It is not a question of “if” they will happen, but “when.”

Many people believe that self-control is enough to resist cravings. However, cravings occur because of chemical and structural brain changes. They can be overwhelming. Developing a strategy to manage them is essential.

MBRP encourages people to sit with their cravings instead of reacting to them. Over time and practice, people learn about their cravings. They learn the rhythm of their cravings and discover they will always end. Understanding their cravings can help people use healthy coping strategies to manage them.

Mindful meditation

Many people develop an addiction after using drugs and alcohol to manage difficult emotions. People may drink or use drugs to cope with grief, anxiety, depression, or loneliness.

Mindful meditation urges people to sit with their complex thoughts and emotions. People must learn to tolerate them instead of running from them or rushing to shut them down. Developing the ability to sit with complicated feelings can reduce the need to use substances to cope with them.

Urge surfing

Urge surfing teaches people to think about riding out their urges instead of giving in. Cravings often come in waves. They may build, peak, and then dissolve. Recognizing this pattern and learning to sit through them without reacting is a powerful tool in addiction recovery.

Using mindfulness practices in recovery can support your journey toward a healthier, more fulfilling life. Reach out to the First Step Behavioral Health specialists to learn more about mindfulness-based relapse prevention therapy.

Find Treatment Now

If you or someone you love struggles with substance abuse or addiction, you are not alone. Contact the First Step Behavioral Health team to explore our holistic addiction treatment and support programs. Take the first step of your recovery journey by contacting us today.


  1. Science Direct: Mindfulness
  2. National Institute of Health (NIH): Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
  3. NIH: Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Substance Use Disorders: A Pilot Efficacy Trial
  4. NIH: Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention in Individuals with Substance Use Disorders: A Systematic Review

Jump to a Section

Call (855) 425-4846