The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction, 2nd ed., by Rebecca E. Williams and Julie S. Kraft uses mindfulness strategies to help readers explore the losses and avoidance of feelings that have contributed to addictions. It draws on a variety of concepts from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).
The first part of the book is devoted to basic concepts related to emotions, thoughts, behaviours, and mindfulness. The authors explain that “long ago, something taught you that feelings aren’t safe,” and an addiction is a way to try to avoid feelings. The book aims to help readers accept and tolerate rather than try to change their feelings, and there are exercises to guide you in sitting with your emotions and identifying strategies you tend to use to avoid feeling emotions.
The chapters on thoughts and behaviours are also very exploratory, guiding readers through reflecting on what their patterns are and where those patterns came from. The authors offer some interesting insights. For example, they identify “repeat offender” thoughts that we first develop in childhood when our thinking was simple, so they don’t accurately represent the nuanced adult reality of the world around us. They also point out how behaviours to manage difficult feelings like loneliness can end up becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.
The second part of the book explores the relationship between losses and addictions, and guides readers through processing and grieving those losses. There are a variety of exercises to help the reader explore their history, including the timeline of their addiction, in order to gain understanding about things like what the addictive behaviour started off as a solution to.
The third part of the book is devoted to moving forward with recovery and building greater wellness. There’s a chapter on relationships that includes tips on communication skills to support healthier relationships. I liked the idea of speaking with softer emotions, which involves expressing vulnerable emotions like hurt or embarrassment that underlie harder emotions like anger. There’s also a chapter on dual diagnosis that covers different mental illness illnesses that can co-occur with addictions.
Some of the mindfulness concepts the book covered were avoiding time travelling by connecting with the present moment, releasing judgment, radical acceptance, and self-compassion. It’s not a sit-down-and-meditate-and-you’ll-be-all-better kind of book; it’s about using mindfulness to help you connect with things that you’ve been trying to run away from.
The authors’ tone is very warm and compassionate, and they offer plenty of encouragement along the way. While encouragement in a book can sometimes come across as a bit condescending, that wasn’t the case at all in this book; it felt like the authors were genuinely invested in their readers moving forward with recovery. I thought the blending of ACT, CBT, and DBT concepts was done very effectively, and there were lots of case study examples used to help explain the various concepts. The exercises throughout the book guide the reader in leaning into the things they’ve been running away from, as scary as that may feel at first. I think this would be a great book for anyone wanting to work on getting at what’s driving their addiction.
The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.