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C35. Challenging our understanding of addiction and recovery through mindfulness

C35. Challenging our understanding of addiction and recovery through mindfulness

Learner category:

  • Beginning Level
  • Novice Level
  • Intermediate Level
  • Expert Level

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will be able to recognize of addiction, trauma and recovery in our lives
  • Participants will be able to recognize the role of our body and mindfulness in a process of change
  • Participants will be reflect on the question what can be considered the opposite of addiction
  • Participants will be able to recognize the limitations of our current understanding of addiction
  • Participants will be able to recognize how mindfulness changes recovery, stigma and our relationships


Addiction treatment is and has been primarily focussed on behaviour change, promoting harm reduction, managing withdrawal symptoms and risks and supporting recovery by promoting self-help and engagement with others and community support groups. A somatic and mindfulness recovery approach challenges our understanding about addiction and the process of recovery by re-considering the role of our will, the relationship between trauma, addiction drivers and the role of our body in the process of recovery and healing. What is the value of questions like “what does addiction feel like?” or “what does the opposite of addiction feel like?”. How would a somatic approach to addiction shape addiction treatment centres and how would it change our current dominant allopathic approach to addiction? Finally we consider how a new somatic and mindfulness approach towards addiction and trauma can impact our society, our relationship with others and ourselves.


Paul du Buf

Paul graduated as a nurse in 1994 and has worked since in the area’s of prevention, treatment, aftercare, dual diagnosis, training and innovation in addiction treatment services in the Netherlands and UK. In 2018 he volunteered in down town Eastside in Vancouver, Canada. In the UK he worked in the NHS and and in settings from a private hospital to a police custody suite and with several charity organisations. His innovative work whilst working at the South London and Maudsley NHS foundation trust received an award for clinical excellence. His 2 year alcohol pilot project working with A&E patients contributed to ongoing funding for a long-time research project. Paul became a body-therapy practitioner in 2019 to promote inclusion of our body in recovery and he hopes to graduate in 2020 as an advanced mindfulness practitioner in the area of trauma and addiction. Paul currently works in a community drug service as an independent nurse prescriber in the United Kingdom.

Comments (6)

  1. Dennis Hagarty

    Thank you Paul. As you said many of our patients have experienced trauma. This energy is stored in the body that continues to aggravate the nervous system keeping the constant cycle of injury. Mindfulness and other energy therapies help the individual to promote self-healing. I think that nurses can take advantage of these treatments and use them with the patients as well as self-care. Thank you for you presentation.

    1. Paul du Buf

      Thank you for your comment Dennis. Yes, I notice an increasing interest in including the body in the process of recovery and as a means of self-care. Not so much yet unfortunately in the addiction treatment services I have worked in …
      I hope that the work of Eugene Gendlin, Bessel van de Kolk etc. will be integrated in treatment offered to people with addictions.
      Bw, Paul

  2. Marian Laniyan

    Your presentation is very informative. Thank you for all you do to help people who need this help the most. I like your approach in caring for your patients.

    1. Paul du Buf

      Thank you very much Marian and thank you for your interest in this area.
      Bw, Paul

  3. Virginia Coletti

    very informative presentation. Mindfulness is so timely and a grest toll in recovery .

    1. Paul du Buf

      Thank you! Paul

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