Goal Management Training and Mindfulness Meditation improve executive functions and transfer to ecological tasks of daily life in polysubstance users enrolled in therapeutic community treatment

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 Aug 1;165:9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.04.040. Epub 2016 May 20.


Background: We have previously shown that Goal Management Training+Mindfulness Meditation (GMT+MM) improves executive functions in polysubstance users enrolled in outpatient treatment. The aim of this study was to establish if GMT+MM has similar positive effects on executive functions in polysubstance users in residential treatment, and if executive functions' gains transfer to more ecologically valid goal-oriented tasks.

Methods: Thirty-two polysbustance users were randomly allocated to eight weeks of GMT+MM (n=16) or control, i.e., no-intervention (n=16); both groups received treatment as usual. Outcome measures included performance in laboratory tasks of basic and complex executive functions (i.e., basic: working memory and inhibition; complex: planning and self-regulation) and in an ecological task of goal-directed behavior (the Multiple Errands Test - contextualized version, MET-CV) measured post-interventions.

Results: Results showed that GMT+MM was superior to control in improving basic measures of working memory (Letter-number sequencing; F=4.516, p=0.049) and reflection impulsivity (Information Sampling Test; F=6.217, p=0.018), along with initial thinking times during planning (Zoo Map Test; F=8.143, p=0.008). In addition, GMT+MM was superior to control in improving performance in the MET-CV (task failures; F=8.485, p=0.007).

Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that GMT+MM increases reflective processes and the achievement of goals in daily activities, furthermore ecological test can detects changes easily than laboratory tasks.

Keywords: Executive functions; Goal Management Training; Mindfulness Meditation; Multiple errands test; Polysbustance abuse.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Teaching
  • Therapeutic Community*
  • Young Adult