Mindfulness based relapse prevention in an Alcohol Treatment Unit

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019



To allow participants to describe their own experiences of the effectiveness of Mindfulness based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) groups and also cover several pre-determined domains developed from the literature on alcohol misuse and mindfulness based approaches.


A qualitative approach was used to interview people who had taken part in two different eight week MBRP groups run at a Scottish Alcohol Treatment Unit. The data was transcribed and analysed using a grounded theory approach.


The study recruited patients who had attended an eight week MBRP course run for people with a history of alcohol dependence who were currently abstinent. Eleven patients were recruited from a total of sixteen participants of two different groups. All participants were invited to take part in the study.


An eight week group programme combining Mindfulness techniques and Relapse Prevention delivered by an experienced Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) practitioner.

Findings and Conclusions:

This pilot study demonstrated that MBRP was an acceptable and potentially a useful treatment option. All patients interviewed showed at least some compatibility with the intervention and a desire to continue with mindfulness techniques after the end of the course. The self-monitoring component of the MBRP course seemed to provide participants with both a way of identifying high risk situations and a new approach to processing cues. Ideas relating to self-compassion seemed to have potential to impact on feelings of self-worth which sometimes led to behavioural change. A treatment which integrates cognitive behavioural techniques with mindfulness is potentially an important development in treatment of alcohol dependence.


Dr Alistair Wilson. Consultant Psychiatrist (retired). NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde. Maria Higgins. Research Assistant. University of Glasgow. Dr Iain Smith. Consultant Psychiatrist in Addictions. NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde. Dr Yameen Quereshi. Consultant Psychiatrist in Addictions. NHS Lanarkshire. Dr Elizabeth J McGrath. Clinical Psychologist. Camden & Islington Foundation trust.


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Dr Donna Mullen