Mindfulness-based approaches have shown some success when applied to the treatment of substance abuse and addiction. Mindfulness-based approaches for substance abuse treatment, in part, attempt to decrease the impact of negative affect, which is thought to serve as a trigger for substance use. Improving distress tolerance is an important aspect of mindfulness-based substance abuse treatment. These approaches can be part of a comprehensive addiction treatment plan that includes behavioral modifications, and may include pharmaceuticals to decrease cravings, group therapy, or counseling.
This issue of the digest provides a summary of current research on mind and body approaches, such as acupuncture, hypnotherapy, mindfulness meditation, music therapy, and yoga for substance use disorders.
Modality and Summary of Current Evidence
To date, there is not enough consistent data to support the use of acupuncture for substance use outcomes; however, there are some findings that suggest acupuncture may have positive effects as an adjunctive therapy for withdrawal/craving and anxiety symptoms. Only a few high-quality studies on acupuncture for smoking cessation have been conducted, so firm conclusions about its effectiveness cannot be drawn.
There is some evidence to suggest that hypnotherapy may improve smoking cessation, but data are not definitive.
Available data suggest that mindfulness-based interventions may help significantly reduce the consumption of several substances including alcohol, cigarettes, opiates, and others compared to control groups; however, many studies have had small sample sizes, methodological problems, and a lack of consistently replicated findings.
Although there is some evidence that music therapy may have an effect on emotional and motivational outcomes and perceived helpfulness, the efficacy of music therapy for substance abuse disorders is unclear.
Only a few studies have been conducted on the effects of yoga for smoking cessation. Although preliminary results have been positive, larger, high-quality studies are needed to determine rigorously if yoga is an effective treatment.