Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for alcohol dependence: Findings from a randomized controlled trial

Aleksandra E. Zgierska*, Cindy A. Burzinski, Marlon P. Mundt, Andrew S. McClintock, Jennifer Cox, Christopher L. Coe, Michael M. Miller, Michael F. Fleming

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objectives: To assess the effects of mindfulness-based relapse prevention for alcohol dependence (MBRP-A) intervention on drinking and related consequences. Methods: 123 alcohol-dependent adults in early recovery, recruited from outpatient treatment programs, were randomly assigned to MBRP-A (intervention plus usual-care; N = 64) or Control (usual-care-alone; N = 59) group. MBRP-A consisted of eight-weekly sessions and home practice. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, 8 weeks and 26 weeks (18 weeks post-intervention), and compared between groups using repeated measures analysis. Results: Outcome analysis included 112 participants (57 MBRP-A; 55 Control) who provided follow-up data. Participants were 41.0 ± 12.2 years old, 56.2% male, and 91% white. Prior to “quit date,” they reported drinking on 59.4 ± 34.8% (averaging 6.1 ± 5.0 drinks/day) and heavy drinking (HD) on 50.4 ± 35.5% of days. Their drinking reduced after the “quit date” (before enrollment) to 0.4 ± 1.7% (HD: 0.1 ± 0.7%) of days. At 26 weeks, the MBRP-A and control groups reported any drinking on 11.5 ± 22.5% and 5.9 ± 11.6% of days and HD on 4.5 ± 9.3% and 3.2 ± 8.7% of days, respectively, without between-group differences (ps ≥ 0.05) in drinking or related consequences during the follow-up period. Three MBRP-A participants reported “relapse,” defined as three-consecutive HD days, during the study. Subgroup analysis indicated that greater adherence to session attendance and weekly home practice minutes were associated with improved outcomes. Conclusions: MBRP-A as an adjunct to usual-care did not show to improve outcomes in alcohol-dependent adults in early recovery compared to usual-care-alone; a return to drinking and relapse to HD were rare in both groups. However, greater adherence to MBRP-A intervention may improve long-term drinking-related outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-17
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Alcohol dependence
  • Alcoholism
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Relapse prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for alcohol dependence: Findings from a randomized controlled trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this