As an alternative to 12-step programs, Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), a cognitive-behavioral treatment incorporating mindfulness, focuses on responses to high-risk situations, combining skills-training with cognitive interventions to prevent or limit relapse.
Mindfulness has been described as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. Many therapeutic orientations, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for depression (MBCT), use mindfulness techniques and practices, leading to growing evidence of its benefits. MBRP, a mindfulness-based aftercare approach, integrates core aspects of traditional relapse prevention with practices adapted from MBSR and MBCT.
Identification of high-risk situations remains central to the treatment. Participants are trained to recognize early warning signs for relapse, increase awareness of internal (i.e., emotional and cognitive) and external (i.e., situational) cues previously associated with substance use, develop effective coping skills, and enhance self-efficacy. Mindfulness practices included in MBRP are intended to raise awareness of triggers, monitor internal reactions, and foster more skillful behavioral choices. The practices focus on increasing acceptance and tolerance of positive and negative physical, emotional, and cognitive states, such as craving, thereby decreasing the need to alleviate associated discomfort by engaging in substance use.