How Mindfulness Can Help People Quit Opioids

Woman sitting off water practicing mindfulness

The opioid crisis has devastated countless lives, leaving individuals and their families struggling to find effective solutions for addiction recovery. Here in Pennsylvania, the heroin and opioid crisis is the number one public safety challenge, with 5,168 people dying from opioid overdoses in 2021. While traditional treatments like medication-assisted therapy and counseling play crucial roles, mindfulness has emerged as a powerful complementary practice in the journey to quit opioids. 

Let’s explore how mindfulness can aid in overcoming opioid addiction, offering a holistic approach to recovery.

Understanding Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and engaged in the current moment, aware of your thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgment. Originating from ancient meditation practices, mindfulness has been extensively researched and adopted in modern psychology due to its numerous mental health benefits, including reduced stress, enhanced emotional regulation, improved physical health and greater self-awareness. 

The Challenges of Quitting Opioids

Quitting opioids is an arduous process characterized by intense cravings, withdrawal symptoms and psychological challenges. These obstacles often lead to relapse, making it essential to have effective coping strategies in place. Mindfulness offers several tools to address these challenges, providing support on both physical and psychological levels. 

How Mindfulness Helps in Opioid Recovery

Managing Cravings and Withdrawal Symptoms

Mindfulness teaches individuals to observe cravings without acting on them. By recognizing cravings as temporary thoughts or sensations, individuals can reduce their power and avoid relapse. Mindfulness can also help manage the physical discomfort associated with withdrawal. Techniques like mindful breathing and body scans allow individuals to focus on their bodily sensations, reducing the intensity of perceived pain.

Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and mindful breathing, are proven to lower stress levels. This is particularly beneficial for individuals in recovery, as stress is a common trigger for relapse. Additionally, mindfulness helps in acknowledging and accepting anxious thoughts without judgment, reducing their impact. This can be crucial for those experiencing anxiety during the withdrawal and recovery phases.

Improving Emotional Regulation

By enhancing awareness of emotional states, individuals are able to recognize and address negative emotions before they escalate. They can also foster a non-reactive stance towards emotions, helping them respond to emotional triggers in healthier ways, rather than turning to opioids.

Enhancing Self-Compassion and Resilience

Mindfulness encourages self-compassion, helping individuals treat themselves with kindness during the challenging recovery process. This reduces feelings of shame and guilt often associated with addiction. Regular mindfulness practice can also build resilience, equipping individuals with the strength to cope with setbacks and continue their recovery journey.

Promoting Long-Term Recovery

Incorporating mindfulness into daily life promotes a balanced and aware approach to living, reducing the risk of relapse. Mindfulness can even be a lifelong practice that supports sustained recovery, providing ongoing benefits long after the initial cessation of opioid use.

Practical Mindfulness Techniques for Opioid Recovery

Below are some mindfulness techniques you can practice on your own:

  • Mindful Breathing. Focus on your breath, observing each inhale and exhale. This practice can help calm the mind and reduce stress.
  • Body Scan Meditation. Lie down and mentally scan your body from head to toe, noting any areas of tension or discomfort without judgment.
  • Mindful Walking. Pay attention to the sensations of walking, such as the feeling of your feet touching the ground, the movement of your legs and the rhythm of your breath.
  • Guided Meditation. Use apps or online resources for guided mindfulness meditations tailored to addiction recovery.
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Consider enrolling in an MBSR program, which is designed to help individuals manage stress through mindfulness practices.


Mindfulness offers a multifaceted approach to quitting opioids, addressing the physical, emotional and psychological challenges of addiction recovery. By incorporating mindfulness into your daily life, you can support a healthy recovery by developing greater self-awareness, emotional regulation and resilience. To learn more about the holistic therapies available at Recovery Cove, contact us today 484-549-COVE.