Jenny Nicholson

Jenny is a Registered Mental Health Nurse Prescriber, and mindfulness teacher, with over twenty years’ experience of working in addiction treatment services. She has worked in various roles, as drug worker, addiction nurse, crack/cocaine specialist and clinical manager, across the statutory and voluntary sectors in Oxfordshire.

She is now Residential Detox Nurse Prescriber and mindfulness teacher at a council-funded 10-bedded detoxification unit, SMART Howard House, in Oxford, where she has developed a rolling mindfulness programme for residents, Mindfulness in Early Addiction Recovery (MEAR). She recently gained her MSc: Psychological Therapies and Research (Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapies and Approaches) (Distinction) from Exeter University with the study presented here, her first foray into research. This experience has excited her interest into further investigation of the adaptations needed to make mindfulness-based interventions safe and effective at this early stage of the recovery journey.

Mindfulness in Early Addiction Recovery (MEAR): Exploring the acceptability and effectiveness of a new rolling programme

Substance misuse is a global problem, affecting the health and well-being of millions worldwide. Evidence is growing for closed-group Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) as effective interventions for substance misusers entering and maintaining recovery; however there is less evidence for rolling programmes, and almost nothing for MBIs during detoxification and immediately afterwards. This study aimed to evaluate the acceptability and effectiveness of a rolling programme consisting of weekly one-hour-long groups, called Mindfulness in Early Addiction Recovery (MEAR), in a council-funded residential alcohol and opioid detoxification setting. Data were analysed using a mixed-methods approach, incorporating quantitative measures to evaluate changes in levels of mindfulness, self-efficacy, motivation, psychological health and overall quality of life, alongside a thematic analysis of participants’ comments. Numbers were reduced due to Covid-19, but participants were able to engage with the programme with no noted adverse reactions, and there was reliable improvement for those who completed, in mindfulness, self-efficacy, psychological health and overall wellbeing measures. The thematic analysis explored participants’ comments and found difficulties related to the known hindrances of mindfulness, alongside rich insights for those who completed, and some learning for those who left prematurely. The lack of a control group means it is not possible to prove causation between MEAR and improvements; however this preliminary study suggests that it may be an appropriate and helpful intervention for those undergoing detox and shortly afterwards, warranting further research. The paper will be submitted for publication in a journal.

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