Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention: Positive Treatment Outcomes


man meditating on top of hill

Relapse is a common fear of many in addiction recovery; although relapse is a normal part of the recovery process, many consider it a sign of weakness or failure. There are relapse prevention strategies that can be used in treatment to help ameliorate the chances of this occurring; one recent study has shown positive results in mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP). MBRP is designed to foster awareness of one’s triggers, destructive behavioral patterns, and “automatic” responses associated with addiction.

A 2018 study conducted by researchers from UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs involved 63 individuals being randomly assigned to either contingency management (CM; a method used to provide incentives such as movie vouchers for completing assigned tasks) and MBRP or CM and health education (HE; a program designed to inform people on various topics of health, ex. cancer screening, sleep hygiene, physical activity and more), with the intent of seeing if there were beneficial outcomes involved of people enrolled in MBRP. Assessments were conducted weekly over a 12-week period, and a 1-month follow up was also conducted.

The goals of the MBRP program involved the practice of non-judgment awareness of one’s moment-to-moment experience, interrupting “automatic” reactions with mindfulness, becoming more aware of relapse triggers, and practicing meditation exercises. The researchers found several positive outcomes of MBRP:

  • Reduced likelihood of stimulant use
  • Significant decrease in depression severity
  • Anxiety decreased over time
  • Significantly lower scores reported for difficulty in emotion regulation

The study’s results indicate that mindfulness could be an effective component to relapse prevention, as being aware of triggers and learning to better cope with the present moment has shown to assist individuals in working through cravings, triggers and unhelpful feelings or thoughts. Mindfulness provides us with an opportunity to change our relationship with discomfort; to see what each moment in life has to teach us and offer us rather than subject us to.

If you’re in addiction recovery, mindfulness-based practices could be very beneficial for you. Speak with someone from a reputable treatment center today to learn more about your options.

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.