Mindful body awareness training may help women recover from drug addiction, say researchers as they find improvements in the study participants.
The findings suggests that the training helps people better understand the physical and emotional signals in their body and how they can respond to these to help them better regulate and engage in self-care.
“We could teach this intervention successfully in eight weeks to a very distressed population, and participants not only really learned these skills, they maintained increases in body awareness and regulation over the year-long study period,” said lead author Cynthia J. Price from the University of Washington.
For the study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the team studied 187 women at three Seattle-area locations. The cohort, all women in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD), was split into three relatively equal groups.
Every group continued with their regular SUD treatment. One group received SUD treatment only, another group was taught the mindfulness technique in addition to treatment, and the third group received a women’s education curriculum in addition to treatment.
The training included one-on-one coaching in an outpatient setting, in addition to the substance use disorder treatment the women were already receiving.
The intervention is called Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) and combines manual, mindfulness and psycho-educational approaches to teach interoceptive awareness and related self-care skills.
Women were tested at the beginning, and at three, six and 12 months on a number of factors including substance use, distress craving, emotion regulation (self-report and psychophysiology), mindfulness skills and interoceptive awareness.
The team found that there were lasting improvements in these areas for those who received the MABT intervention, but not for the other two study groups.
“Those who received MABT relapsed less,” Price said.
“By learning to attend to their bodies, they learned important skills for better self-care,” Price noted.