Are mindfulness-based interventions effective for substance use disorders? A systematic review of the evidence

Subst Use Misuse. 2014 Apr;49(5):492-512. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2013.770027. Epub 2013 Mar 5.


Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly suggested as therapeutic approaches for effecting substance use and misuse (SUM). The aim of this article is to review current evidence on the therapeutic efficacy of MBIs for SUM. A literature search was undertaken using four electronic databases and references of retrieved articles. The search included articles written in English published up to December 2011. Quality of included trials was assessed. In total, 24 studies were included, three of which were based on secondary analyses of previously investigated samples. Current evidence suggests that MBIs can reduce the consumption of several substances including alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, cigarettes, and opiates to a significantly greater extent than waitlist controls, non-specific educational support groups, and some specific control groups. Some preliminary evidence also suggests that MBIs are associated with a reduction in craving as well as increased mindfulness. The limited generalizability of the reviewed findings is noted (i.e., small sample size, lack of methodological details, and the lack of consistently replicated findings). More rigorous and larger randomized controlled studies are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome