Substance use disorders are prevalent and returning to substance use (i.e., relapse) following treatment is common, underscoring the need for effective treatments that will help individuals maintain long-term reductions in substance use. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been increasingly developed and evaluated for the treatment of substance use disorders. The aim of this article was to update a systematic review conducted by Li et al. in 2017 on the outcomes of randomized control trials of MBIs for substance use disorders. In addition, we provided a session-by-session examination of the most widely used MBI protocols.
We conducted a comprehensive literature search of the PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science databases from January of 2016 through April of 2020. Studies were included based on the following criteria: 1) examined the effects of an MBI, 2) employed a randomized controlled trial design with repeated measures, including secondary data analyses of randomized controlled trials, and 3) enrolled participants seeking treatment for substance use disorders.
The search identified 902 publications and 30 studies were eligible for inclusion and data extraction. MBIs appear to be as effective as existing evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders at reducing the frequency and quantity of alcohol and drug use, substance-related problems, craving for substance use, and at increasing the rate of abstinence.
Future directions include additional large scale randomized controlled trials, investigation of the most suitable settings and protocols, examination of patient populations that may benefit most from MBIs, and dissemination and implementation research.