USC Researchers: Mindfulness May Be Key to Substance Abuse Recovery

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USC investigators suggest that mindfulness may be the key to substance abuse treatment. Research suggests that the practice of mindfulness may be able to enhance treatment and recovery from addiction.

Jordan Davis, an assistant professor at USC is one of many researchers who are studying the impact of mindfulness on addiction. Recent studies have been encouraging. Davis, the author of the study, analyzed Mindfulness based relapse prevention, or MBRP. The study, conducted over a period of 28 weeks, found that MBRP was able to significantly reduce cravings and stress.

The reduction in stress was significant and is being labeled as the “key” factor in the behavior change.

Mindfulness was used in combination with Treatment as usual, or TAU. When combined, the participants had better overall outcomes. The study included 79 young adults, with 44 assigned to MBRP and 35 assigned to TAU. Bi-monthly assessments were made, with participants reporting on substance abuse, craving and measures of stress.

The study found that mindfulness is an appropriate and useful form of intervention, with participants in the MBRP group suffering from lower substance abuse, cravings and stress compared to the group that followed only the TAU.

Long-term outcomes are partially linked to a lower level of stress, but researchers claim that more work needs to be done in the area to fully understand how mindfulness helps substance abuse recovery in the long-term.

The study found that even eight weeks of mindfulness training improved the participant’s chances of remaining clean even six months after the training was completed.

Davis is recruiting participants for a two-year study which will examine the benefits of mindfulness of young people who have experienced trauma. The study will only include participants who are currently receiving outpatient treatment for mental health issues and drug abuse. The team predicts that mindfulness will help participants better control their urges and emotions.

The practice of mindfulness and medication therapy is already in use at some of the top rehabilitation and treatment centers in the world.

Participants in the study will undergo similar mindfulness therapies as those experienced in the world’s best rehab centers. The participants, all ages 18 to 26, will be placed in a control group and a mindfulness group. The mindfulness group will undergo eight weeks of practice with learning skills, such as self-compassion, recognizing painful thoughts and uncomfortable thoughts without trying to get rid of them through substance abuse.

The participants will repeat their neurocognitive exercises for three months to determine the long-term impacts of mindfulness on substance abuse therapy.