Researchers looked at addicts and alcoholics a year after they received treatment for their disease. Patients who were taught mindfulness meditation techniques had a higher success rate than those who did not. Researchers found that typical relapse prevention tools and the 12-steps alone were, often times, not enough in preventing relapse.
"Addiction is really a tough one," says Sarah Bowen from the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors at the University of Washington. "The relapse rates remain really high even after decades of work by the best scientists out there. We need to keep looking at more options."
"We need to keep looking at innovative approaches of addiction treatment," said Bowen. "I don't want to say mindfulness is better for everyone, but it's another option."
Bowen and her colleagues, who led the new research, found that about 11 percent of people in the U.S. with substance abuse problems seek treatment every year. However, around 40 to 60 percent of those who receive treatment end up relapsing. The research shows that using atypical techniques, like meditation, can be what’s needed to stop the cycle of relapse.
The research was published in JAMA Psychiatry.