Mindfulness treatment for substance misuse: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2017 Apr;75:62-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2017.01.008. Epub 2017 Jan 31.


High rates of relapse following substance misuse treatment highlight an urgent need for effective therapies. Although the number of empirical studies investigating effects of mindfulness treatment for substance misuse has increased dramatically in recent years, few reviews have examined findings of mindfulness studies. Thus, this systematic review examined methodological characteristics and substantive findings of studies evaluating mindfulness treatments for substance misuse published by 2015. The review also includes the first meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of mindfulness treatments for substance misuse. Comprehensive bibliographic searches in PubMed, PsycInfo, and Web of Science, identified 42 pertinent studies. Meta-analytic results revealed significant small-to-large effects of mindfulness treatments in reducing the frequency and severity of substance misuse, intensity of craving for psychoactive substances, and severity of stress. Mindfulness treatments were also effective in increasing rates of posttreatment abstinence from cigarette smoking compared to alternative treatments. Mindfulness treatment for substance misuse is a promising intervention for substance misuse, although more research is needed examining the mechanisms by which mindfulness interventions exert their effects and the effectiveness of mindfulness treatments in diverse treatment settings.

Keywords: Addiction; Meta-analysis; Mindfulness intervention; Mindfulness treatment; Substance misuse; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*