People may use drugs or alcohol to help with stress and anxiety or even other underlying mental health disorders. This can be helpful short term in relieving feelings of stress or anxiety but does not help to resolve the underlying cause of these emotions. Using drugs or alcohol as a primary coping strategy could also have harmful long-term effects on your physical, mental and social wellbeing and could lead to dependence or substance use disorder for some.
The CCSA has shown mindfulness and meditation to be one of the top supports used in recovery and can be very helpful in maintaining a healthy relationship with the substances you choose to use. Research has shown the effectiveness and positive outcomes of mindfulness-based treatment of anxiety and for persons with substance use disorders
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be hard or even that intensive. It can be as simple as taking a 5-minute break to focus on your breathing, writing in a journal or answering daily self-reflection questions i.e. How am I doing right now? What do I want to learn about myself this week? What am I grateful for in my life today? It’s about trying to live in the moment and trying not to focus on things you have no control over.
There are thousands of free guided mindfulness meditations on YouTube that you can follow along with. If you want to go a step further, you can learn core skills in the mindfulness education program provided by MindWell (funded by Wellness Together Canada). This service has modules entirely focused on building mindfulness skills and even has weekly live guided-practice sessions.
If you want to explore more ways to practice mindfulness or want to evaluate your relationship with substances Carleton provides several apps and resources that have mindfulness techniques along with other strategies for managing stress and anxiety.
TAO is a simple, user-friendly web-based platform that has modules for substance use and offers mindfulness exercises to help with anxiety and stress. It’s offered for free to Carleton students. It’s also available on IOS and Android.
Another platform that connects mindfulness with substance use is Breaking Free Online. This is a self-directed evidenced-based service geared towards persons who are questioning or struggling with substance use, persons who have substance use disorders, or persons who want to monitor their use. Participants can use the platform in a way that meets their needs whether that is to simply track their use or to engage in cognitive behavioural exercises aimed at changing thoughts and routines. Visit the Office of Student Affairs Safer Substance Use webpage to find out more and how to sign up for free.
Don’t forget that Carleton’s Health and Counselling services are still open virtually if you need someone to talk to.
If you need further assistance or have questions concerning substance use or harm reduction, contact the Office of Student Affairs’ Harm Reduction and Conduct Manager Dillon Brady at Dillon.Brady@carleton.ca.
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