Mindfulness meditation for substance use disorders: A systematic review

Aleksandra Zgierska, David Rabago, Neharika Chawla, Kenneth Kushner, Robert Koehler, Alan Marlatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


Relapse is common in substance use disorders (SUDs), even among treated individuals. The goal of this article was to systematically review the existing evidence on mindfulness meditation-based interventions (MM) for SUDs. The comprehensive search for and review of literature found over 2000 abstracts and resulted in 25 eligible manuscripts (22 published, 3 unpublished: 8 randomized controlled trials, 7 controlled nonrandomized, 6 noncontrolled prospective, and 2 qualitative studies, and 1 case report). When appropriate, methodological quality, absolute risk reduction, number needed to treat, and effect size were assessed. Overall, although preliminary evidence suggests MM efficacy and safety, conclusive data for MM as a treatment of SUDs are lacking. Significant methodological limitations exist in most studies. Further, it is unclear which persons with SUDs might benefit most from MM. Future trials must be of sufficient sample size to answer a specific clinical question and should target both assessment of effect size and mechanisms of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-294
Number of pages29
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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