Treatment effectiveness of a mindfulness-based inpatient group psychotherapy in adolescent substance use disorder - study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Trials. 2018 Dec 27;19(1):706. doi: 10.1186/s13063-018-3048-y.


Background: Current treatments for adolescents with substance use disorder (SUD) have had only limited success. In recent years, research has underlined the role of self-regulatory processes and impulsivity in the development and maintenance of SUD in adolescents. Mindfulness has gained much attention due to its capacity to influence self-regulatory processes, particularly in adult populations. Initial studies have shown the potential of mindfulness-based approaches in younger SUD patients. The aim of the present clinical trial is to evaluate the added treatment effect of a mindfulness-based group psychotherapy ("Mind it!") for adolescents with SUD in comparison to the current standard treatment. Moreover, we seek to explore the feasibility of the intervention and possible mediators of treatment effects.

Methods/design: There will be N = 340 participants aged between 13 and 19 years who are receiving child or adolescent psychiatric or psychotherapeutic inpatient or day treatment targeting their SUD and who have reported substance use 30 days before detoxification and do not show acute psychotic or suicidal symptoms at baseline. The study is a prospective randomized controlled multi-center trial in which patients are assessed: (1) after completing a prior detoxification phase (t0), (2) at 4 weeks (t1), (3) at 8 weeks (t2), and (4) at 6 months after t2 (t3). Participants in the intervention group will receive mindfulness-based group psychotherapy in addition to their existing treatment regime. The primary outcome is substance use in the past 30 days at follow-up based on the Timeline Followback self-report. Secondary outcomes include craving, severity of dependence, and abstinence motivation. Mindfulness, impulsivity, and emotion regulation will be analyzed as possible mediators of treatment effects.

Discussion: This trial is expected to provide evidence of the added effect of a novel, safe, and feasible treatment option for adolescents with SUD.

Trial registration: German Register of Clinical Studies, DRKS00014041 . Registered on 17 April 2018.

Keywords: Adolescents; Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy; Group psychotherapy; Mindfulness-based intervention; Substance use disorder.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Behavior, Addictive / diagnosis
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Behavior, Addictive / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mindfulness*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult