Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Addictive Behaviors: Implementation Issues on the Road Ahead

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Abstract

Over the past 35 years, mindfulness meditation practices have increasingly been integrated into Western medical settings. Research into the benefits of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) continues to expand, such that there are currently more than a dozen different protocolled MBIs for patients suffering from a variety of physical and psychological disorders. In the last decade, a number of MBIs specifically designed to treat addictive behaviors have been developed and tested. This review first provides a brief overview of the current state of the science with respect to the efficacy of MBIs for addictive behaviors, and some of the proposed mechanisms underlying the efficacy of MBIs. Second, the review highlights unresolved implementation issues and provides suggestions for how future research can address the implementation challenges to advance the delivery of MBIs. Specifically, this review focuses on the lack of clear empirical guidelines in the following areas: (a) effective training for MBI treatment providers; (b) adaptations of the traditional 2-hr closed-cohort group format; (c) delivery of MBIs in 1-on-1 treatment contexts; (d) delivery of MBIs at different points in the change process; (e) delivery of MBIs via technology-based platforms; and (f) facilitation of precision medicine in the delivery of MBIs. Specific research directions are suggested with an eye toward a meaningful increase in access to MBIs for front-line clinicians and clients.

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