Meditation: Mindfulness-Based Relapse Program Could Help Treat Addiction

Nov 19, 2015 11:30 AM EST | By Maria Leonila Masculino

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Mindfulness meditation has been proven to be an effective treatment for mental health problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to its benefits, one study suggests that "staying present" could help cure alcoholism and drug addiction.

The Huffington Post reports a research published in JAMA Psychiatry found out that a new program called Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention holds a promise in helping almost 24 million Americans who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.

The MBRP treatment is based from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression and mindfulness-based stress reduction programs. According to experts, those who have undergone MBRP experienced lower relapse risks compared to those who went through the traditional 12-step relapse prevention treatments.

The eight-week program was developed at University of Washington with hopes of helping those with low recovery rates like opiate and crack cocaine addicts.

"MBRP has elements of both cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation," explained Dr. Sarah Bowen, one of the program's creators. "In each session, there's a meditation practice as well as a practice with different cognitive and behavioral skills -- for example, noticing what kind of problematic thoughts might arise, and actually writing them down and becoming familiar with them. It's about practicing very applied skills for day-to-day living. "

"We're trying to teach people to become experts on themselves so they can see these processes unfolding and how they lead to places they don't want to go," she said. "Then, they see the places where they can intervene. How do we become aware of how we feel, and practice sitting with things that are uncomfortable -- things we feel like we can't tolerate? In fact, we can tolerate them. We just need to practice."

"We've really started working with kindness practices, being kind with ourselves and forgiving ourselves," the clinical psychologist at Pacific University in Oregon added. "It's so important for everyone, but especially for people with addiction -- there's so much shame and resentment and guilt. A huge piece of this work is acknowledging that we're really doing our best, and we need to be kind to ourselves to get through it all."

Through further studies, the researchers aim to develop an effective treatment program for those who were unsuccessful after undergoing multiple relapse prevention treatments.

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