Helping Reduce Substance Abuse

There is growing support for mindfulness-based approaches to help reduce the excessive intake of harmful substances like drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, as well as prevent relapses for people in recovery.

At the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Family Medicine (DFM), Assistant Professor Aleksandra Zgierska, MD, PhD, is now leading a study to determine whether mindfulness meditation can help recovering alcoholics stay sober. In 2008, Dr. Zgierska published the results of a pilot study that showed mindfulness meditation was a promising adjunct therapy for alcohol relapse, with results similar to those of conventional therapies.

The current study expands on that pilot, and is one of just a few rigorous studies on the connection between meditation and addiction. For instance in 2009, the University of Washington published the results of a study involving a group of 168 recovering addicts (various substances). These were randomized into two groups: a mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) program that met weekly for eight weeks, and a “treatment as usual” (TAU) program, including a 12-step program and weekly group support sessions.

Two months after the completion of the program, MBRP participants reported substance abuse at levels that were half those of the group following the TAU, as well as significantly less craving. 


University of Wisconsin (Study Details)

Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, University of Washington