Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention: An Emerging Model in the Treatment of Addictive Behaviors

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose,
in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn

This evening, the Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention group will start! There are a couple of spots still available. If you are interested, please contact me at 828-772-1803.

An overview of the 8-session group:

Session 1: Automatic Pilot and Relapse
Session 2: Awareness of Triggers and Craving
Session 3: Mindfulness in Daily Life
Session 4: Mindfulness in High-Risk Situations
Session 5: Acceptance and Skillful Action
Session 6: Seeing Thoughts as Thoughts
Session 7: Self-Care and Lifestyle Balance
Session 8: Social Support and Continuing Practice


Note: I attended a MBRP Training in Seattle in January 2013 when I originally wrote the remainder of this post. 

Dog MeditationAt this writing, I am sitting in a café in Seattle working to integrate things I am learning this week about a rapidly emerging treatment model for addictive behaviors – Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. This model has roots in John Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Alan Marlatt’s model of Relapse Prevention.  Though it may be a new way of presenting the materials, mindfulness practice has existed for thousands of years.  Being with a group of about 30 professionals from around the country seeking new ways to bring mindfulness practice into treatment for addictive behaviors was inspiring.  I was most impressed that the facilitators (also the creators of this model based at the University of Washington) were very heart-centered and rooted in research.

MBRP, at its core, is about creating awareness and space for choice. It integrates cognitive-behavioral relapse prevention skills with mindfulness practices. This model is ideal for people in recovery who have already completed initial treatment for substance use disorders. It is designed “to bring practices of mindful awareness to individuals suffering from the addictive trappings of the mind.” The goals are to bring awareness of triggers, habitual patterns and “automatic” reactions that seem to control many of our lives. The goal is to work towards “freedom from deeply engrained and often catastrophic habitual patterns of thought and behavior.

In my own mindfulness practice, I sometimes get lost. I sometimes fall asleep. I’m reminded of what a dear friend told me once when I was struggling with letting go of a particularly difficult situation in my life… she looked at me and said, “Kim… I have some news for you…Congratulations… you are a human being.” I really liked something that Joel Grow, one of the MBRP facilitators, had to say about mindfulness meditation practice – “it is about creating a space between indulgence and suppression.” At times, we are tempted to follow thoughts out, to fall asleep, to rebel against whatever is suggested. Okay. Fine. We are human. The goal is to notice this and to learn what messages our own thoughts, sensations, feelings and urges have for us. Depending on our own individual desert journeys, perhaps we need to let go and indulge in our thoughts at times. Or, perhaps we need to learn the art of compassionate discipline where we imagine our thoughts as leaves rolling down the river, letting them go and coming back to our breath. The goal is learning that we have choice. We do not have to be swept away by old habitual patterns. We can pause and decide we want to do something differently.


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