Could Mindfulness Help Those with Opioid Use Disorder?

woman meditating

A new pilot study[i] published in Explore by researchers from the Rutgers School of Health Professions suggests that women who practice mindfulness may gain better control of their drug cravings during medically assisted opioid use disorder treatment.

Research Findings on Women and Opioid Cravings

Previous research has shown that women tend to have stronger cravings for opioids and more difficulty controlling those cravings than men do. What’s more, it’s been found that a person’s inability to handle negative emotions and drug cravings are significant factors in drug relapses.

Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) Intervention

Nine women from a residential treatment program participated in the pilot study. Each received a weekly Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) intervention for eight weeks.

Mindfulness Techniques in MORE

Developed by researchers at the University of Utah’s College of Social Work, MORE focuses on three critical therapeutic processes:

1. Mindfulness:

Teaching Clients to:

• A) Be aware when attention is stuck on addictive cues, stress, or pain.

• B) Shift from emotional to sensory processing of cravings or stress.

• C) Redirect attention to breathing through mindful breathing.

The goal in step one is to enhance self-control over automatic habits tied to cues, stress, and pain and to disrupt negative habits to focus on healthier thinking and actions.

2. Reappraisal:

Teaching clients to use mindfulness to encourage mindful disengaging from negative thoughts, restructure until they fade, and construct positive thoughts for resilience and coping.

This step aims to increase psychological flexibility and adaptive coping in stressful situations.

3. Savoring:

The objective here is to boost positive emotions and motivation. Clients are taught to mindfully focus on and enjoy rewarding experiences and cultivate awareness of positive emotional responses.

Results of the Rutgers Study

In the Rutgers study, “participants’ emotional regulation difficulty significantly decreased after eight weeks of MORE intervention.”  The research team also found that after eight weeks of MORE, communication between parts of the brain that may help women better control negative emotions and drug cravings increased significantly.

Get Help from Aware Recovery Care

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to opioids, other drugs, or alcohol and need help in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, or Indiana, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. And we come to you, regardless of where you live. Our unique in-home treatment model of care gives clients a significantly better chance of recovery than traditional inpatient rehab care. Please get in touch with one of our Recovery Specialists to learn more.