Has CBT and Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention Proven to be Effective?

lady smiling and meditating in sun

When it comes to relapse prevention, a variety of techniques have been used to help people develop tools they can use the moment they recognize they have been triggered to relapse. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness are two different methods that can help a person overcome negative thoughts; CBT is a therapy technique that involves helping a client develop more positive thought patterns, and mindfulness is a thought-based practice that helps people to live more in the present moment. Both CBT and mindfulness have profound influences on the mind, body, and spirit, with the ability to, over time, change your life for the better.

A 2014 study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry involved the assessment of 286 participants who completed initial treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). Participants were randomly assigned to 8 continuous weeks of either CBT-based relapse prevention treatment, mindfulness-based relapse prevention treatment, or regular relapse prevention treatment. Participants were then assessed by the researchers at 3, 6, and 12-month intervals to see if the prevention program had a lasting impact on them. Compared with regular treatment, both the CBT-based and the mindfulness-based relapse prevention program significantly lowered participants’ risks of relapse and heavy drinking. Of the participants that did experience relapse, those that engaged in CBT or mindfulness programs reported significantly fewer drinking days than those who later relapsed after participating in a regular treatment program. What does this mean for you?

CBT and mindfulness are excellent components to add to your treatment regime. CBT helps clients to change their habits of thinking towards patterns that are more conducive to their recovery; mindfulness is a way of thinking that gets better as you practice it more over time. Speak with your therapist at a reputable treatment center today to learn more about how you can develop CBT skills. To begin practicing mindfulness, consider practicing the following exercises:

  • Mindful breathing – sit comfortably and allow yourself to focus on your breath for a few minutes with your eyes closed. Purposefully watch your breath and allow any thoughts that you encounter come and go.
  • Mindful observation – find a natural object around you and choose to intently focus on it. Notice its texture, smell, color, shape, characteristics; visually explore every aspect of this object and connect with its purpose in life.
  • Mindful awareness – practice labeling any distressing thoughts you may have. For example, if you find yourself saying harsh things about your abilities, label it “Criticism”. Each time you have an upsetting thought, practicing labeling that thought and letting it go.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.