Man MeditatingA promising new study uses “mindfulness-based stress reduction” as an integral treatment strategy for alcohol use disorders.

The technique, often used in behavioral medicine for stress reduction, promises to enable individuals with the ability to cope with stress alleviating the need to turn to alcohol for self-medicated stress relief.

“By adapting and applying mindfulness-based stress reduction or MBSR in alcoholism treatment, we hope to develop an increased ability to cope with stress and enhanced psychological well-being among alcohol-dependent individuals,” said Gerard J. Connors, Ph.D., of the University of Buffalo.

“For people who often deal with stress in their lives by turning to alcohol, this could be a very positive alternative.”

Connors is a clinical psychologist and principal investigator on the study.

The four-year investigation on MBSR will be conducted with support from a $1.9 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The MBSR intervention provides intensive training in mindfulness practices and their applications for daily living and coping with stress. MBSR emphasizes self-observation and self-responsibility, which is expected to facilitate the alcohol-dependent individual’s management of the stressors that place the person at increased risk for drinking.

The project will be conducted in two phases, with the first component to include development of an eight-session treatment manual for conducting group-based MBSR with alcohol-dependent men and women. In phase two, a pilot clinical trial will be conducted to examine the effects of adding MBSR to outpatient treatment.

The long-term goal is to decrease relapse to drinking following treatment, thereby providing significant health benefits to people being treated for alcohol dependence, with corresponding benefits for their families and the community-at-large.

Source: University of Buffalo