At New Life Foundation we offer Relapse Prevention Training (RPT). In RPT residents learn to recognize high-risk situations for continued drug use, including both external and internal stimuli. Residents are taught a set of skills designed to cope with these stimuli and reduce the likelihood that they will return to drug use. These skills include indentifying early warning signs of addictive thinking and behavior, recognizing high-risk situations, and understanding how everyday seemingly inconsequential decisions may be leading the individual toward relapse.
Mindfulness training is incorporated into RPT here at New Life Foundation as a means to support and enhance the resident’s awareness of internal and external stimuli. With mindfulness residents are taught to direct their attention to the present moment non-judgmentally. They are taught to observe internal and external stimuli in order to enhance their awareness of them, and also to promote an understanding and acceptance of their changing nature. With an acceptance insight into their changing nature residents develop an increased ability to experience physical and emotional pain without excessive emotional reactivity.
By incorporating mindfulness training into RPT residents may learn to cope with negative emotions more effectively. Whether the emotion is frustration, anger, sadness, or excitement, mindfulness has been shown to help the individual to identify the specific emotion without immediately acting upon it. Thus creating more time for the resident to choose an adaptive coping skill based on logic, rather than an impulsive maladaptive one. Finally, integrating mindfulness-based interventions into RPT may improve self-observation and in turn promote the use of a wide range of adaptive coping skills taught within RPT. Meditation has been shown to enhance awareness and the development of alternatives to mindless compulsive behavior. According to RPT, the cycle from trigger to use and relapse can appear seamless. Mindfulness may help to bring awareness to this “conditioned reflex” so that the individual may introduce an alternate behavior incompatible with drug use to continue a cycle of sobriety.