Scott Kiloby has known for years that a lack of mindfulness (i.e., a lack of present awareness) is a cause of addiction. He lived in enslavement to his thoughts of past and future for 20 years, extremely addicted to drugs, alcohol and a host of other substances and activities. He has been writing about the need for mindfulness as an addiction treatment for many years and has now co-founded the Kiloby Center for Recovery, a substance abuse facility that focuses almost exclusively on mindfulness as a treatment for addiction. Mindfulness is a way of being that is focused on the present moment in a non-judgmental, non-reactive manner. Through Mindfulness, one learns to observe thoughts, emotions and sensations coming and going, without trying to analyze, change, add to, subtract from, or indulge in them.
Recently, a host of new studies and articles are setting out the benefits of mindfulness in addiction treatment. But Psychology Today has gone one step further, publishing an article by Richard Taite that echoes Scott’s thoughts on lack of mindfulness as an actual cause of addiction.
Psychology Today published this very forward-thinking article on August 14, 2014 called “NIH Study: Addicts are Lower in Mindfulness.” The article had the following comments with regard to a lack of mindfulness being a cause of addiction:
“Now a study from the National Institutes of Health shows that lack of mindfulness may be one of the causes of substance abuse, in the first place . . . . The researchers looked for mindfulness in a population 107 adults in residential treatment for substance abuse. At the center, addicts filled out a 13-question survey called the Toronto Mindfulness Scale. Really, the scale looks at two components of mindfulness: decentering and curiosity. In decentering, a person can “step back” to observe their thoughts and feelings, rather than being absorbed by them. And in this case, curiosity isn’t just being generally curious about the world around you, but instead is a kind of curiousness about yourself – “the desire to know more about what you are experiencing,” the authors write. Because the Toronto Mindfulness Scale has also been used to measure mindfulness in people not seeking treatment, the researchers could make an interesting comparison. For non-addicted people, the average score on the decentering part of the scale is 11.93; for people in residential treatment for addiction, it was 6.78. For non-addicted people, the average score on the curiosity side of the scale was 13.72; for people in residential treatment for addiction, it was 5.58. Overall addicted people had about half the mindfulness as non-addicted people.”
When Scott Kiloby was asked to comment on this recent study, he stated as follows:
“Many people are just coming to learn about mindfulness. The term itself is rather confusing because it seems to be about being full of mind, full of thoughts or about analyzing or thinking more about yourself. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mindfulness is really present moment awareness. It’s a way of being aware of what is happening in one’s present experience, but in a way that is not clinging to whatever is happening. This brings about a deep sense of acceptance of one’s self, others and the world. This kind of deep acceptance transforms the addicted mind because such a mind is always trying to avoid what is arising now in favor of a future state where one will feel better or have better thoughts.
Although endeavoring to chase after better thoughts and feelings seems like a good idea and is even encouraged in our culture, it actually brings about misery for many people who find themselves stuck in a cycle of avoidance of the present moment and endless chasing after future states, experiences, fixes and highs. When addiction begins to take its hold, this avoidance and chasing hijacks the mind completely, making life unmanageable and difficult. One becomes literally enslaved to thoughts about the future. In addition, one stays enmeshed in thoughts of the past during addiction, about what went wrong and how one’s life so far is deficient or lacking. This experience of being identified with or clinging to thoughts of past and future is the very definition of a lack of mindfulness. Mindfulness is not just a cause of addiction. It is most likely one of the main causes of addiction. This is why our culture is just now realizing the benefits of mindfulness when it comes to addiction treatment. We are realizing that our minds are caught in this cycle of avoidance and chasing. The only real answer is to get out of the cycle. And that’s what mindfulness is all about.”
If you or someone you know is addicted and would like to try the mindfulness approach, contact the Kiloby Center for Recovery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard Taite’s full article can be found here.