Scientific article
Published by / Citation
see references for core and additional materials in the post
Original Language


mindfulness-based relapse prevention
Relapse prevention
substance use disosrders

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention: why make relapse prevention more mindful?

ISSUP mindfulness recovery

Traditionally, relapse prevention for addictive disorders has been based on cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). The development of mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) by the University of Washington, which integrates core aspects of relapse prevention with mindfulness practices, has furthered the efforts of other evidence-based treatment and recovery maintenance strategies by acknowledging the physiological response of the human body to high-risk situations.

High-risk situations trigger the individual’s stress response, the magnitude of which is determined by an individual’s perception of the severity of the risk and self-efficacy, i.e. situation-specific confidence in one’s own ability to manage high-risk situations, cravings and urges, without relapsing to former pattern of compulsive use. Individual’s self-efficacy is, therefore, a key predictor of potential lapse or relapse to substance use.

The MBRP allows us to build a client’s self-efficacy by training the client’s ability to create a so-called “SOBER” breathing space:

  • S – Stop: slow down and pause preventing habitual “automatic” response;
  • – Observe: register what is truly happening in the mind and body at the moment;
  • B – Breath: be here and now by shifting your focus to your breath;
  • E – Expand: see a complete picture of your body and surrounding environment;
  • R – Respond: recognize the choice of response, therefore, acting with consciousness vs. impulse.

Neurobiological studies have demonstrated that MBRP:

  • Facilitates the development of enhanced awareness of high risk-situations, cues and triggers;
  • Helps develop conscious reactivity versus impulsive “automatic” response to high-risk situations (effective vs ineffective coping); and, thus, increases self-efficacy;
  • Trains a non-judgmental attitude towards oneself and others.

MBRP can reduce the likelihood of relapse by facilitating a detached relationship with individual’s thoughts and emotions, changing one’s perception of self and the problem.

It cultivates the behaviour opposed to a compulsive one, therefore, facilitating individual’s emotional self-regulation, healthy coping and increase in self-efficacy.

Learn more about MBRP:

Share the Knowledge: ISSUP members can post in the Knowledge Share – Sign in or become a member