Mindfulness Meditation for the Treatment of Women With Comorbid PTSD and SUD

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Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)




Substance-Related Disorders
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic


Behavioral: Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

Study type


Funder types



R01DA040968 (U.S. NIH Grant/Contract)

Details and patient eligibility


The current study will modify an already existing therapy for individuals with substance use disorders to address Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in women enrolled in substance use disorders (SUD) treatment who suffer with both PTSD and SUD. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help individuals to cope with stress and regulate emotions. Through meditation practice women will experience less distress related to PTSD symptoms and reduced substance use in response to emotional triggers. Women enrolled in intensive SUD treatment at a community program will be randomized to receive either 8 weeks of 90 minute Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) group sessions plus treatment as usual (TAU) or TAU alone. The MBRP group sessions will replace 90 minutes of TAU group therapy. Measures of feasibility of implementation, acceptance and adherence will be obtained. Preliminary efficacy for substance use and PTSD symptom severity will be measured at post treatment and at 3- and 6- months' follow-up.

Full description

This randomized controlled pilot study will evaluate the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of MBRP plus usual community treatment as usual (TAU) compared to TAU alone (TAU) for women with substance use disorders(SUD) and PTSD enrolled in community substance abuse treatment. Participants will be randomized to eight weekly 90-minute, mixed individual and group-based MBRP in addition to TAU or TAU alone. The eight sessions of MBRP will replace 8 sessions of seeking safety (SS); a trauma focused integrated therapy currently implemented in TAU. Outcomes assessed will be: PTSD symptom severity as measured by the Clinician's Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Scale-Self Report (PSS-SR); Alcohol and substance use as measured by the Timeline Follow Back (TLFB) assessment and corroborated with urine drug screens. psychosocial functioning; Measure of emotional regulation and mindfulness awareness, attention and acceptance. Recruitment of participants will primarily take place a community treatment program treating women with co-occurring PTSD and SUD. Following therapist training, certification and piloting, eligible women will be invited to participate in the study. Interested potential participants will be screened for major inclusion/exclusion criteria including age, alcohol/substance use, history of trauma and psychiatric/health/medication status. If potentially eligible, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved informed consent will be obtained and participants will be scheduled for a baseline assessment appointment. If an individual is ineligible to participate in this research protocol, she will continue in her usual community treatment program and/or if indicated, be referred for additional treatment services. The investigators decided to limit the study group to women because they represent the largest percentage of patients with comorbid PTSD and SUDs and most have experienced sexual and/or physical trauma. So when trauma-focused treatment is delivered in a group setting for this population, single sex groups create a safe, comfortable and open atmosphere that is required for MM-based treatment and trauma focused work. After having at least 7 days in standard treatment baseline assessments will be collected. Women meeting inclusion with no exclusionary criteria will be randomized to MBRP plus TAU or TAU alone control. Both groups will attend their standard intensive TAU program. The eight MBRP therapy sessions will be integrated into the standard TAU program and replace 8 TAU SS sessions. Participants will be introduced to the therapists and scheduled for their first individual/small group session. The primary outcome measures for the efficacy portion of this study are 1) the effective reduction in PTSD symptom severity through the total score on the CAPS at the end of treatment between the two study groups and 2) the effective reduction in the proportion of days using and amount of use of alcohol/substances during the final 30 days of treatment as measured by the TLFB verified by urine drug screens (UDS). In addition, secondary endpoints will include CAPS scores at the 3 and 6 month post-intervention follow-up visits, the 7 day point prevalence abstinence rates at each treatment, post treatment and follow up visits. Also, PSS-SR, Obsessive Compulsive Drinking and Substance Use Scale-Revised (OCDS-R), Addiction Severity Index-Lite (ASI-Lite), Difficulties in Emotional Regulation Scale (DERS), Mindfulness Acceptance and Awareness Questionnaire (MAAS), Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFQS) and Cognitive and Affective Regulation Scale (CAMS-R). There will also be secondary endpoints and used to gain insight into potential effect modification and mediation. Secondary analysis will also include the proportion of days using alcohol/drugs, craving, psychosocial functioning and emotional regulation. Participants will be assessed weekly throughout the intervention, at the end of the intervention and at 3- and 6- month follow-ups.


90 patients




18 to 65 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Women between 18 and 65 years of age enrolled in the Charleston Center (CC) intensive outpatient and New Life program treatment.
  • Able to comprehend English.
  • Meets fifth edition Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM V) criteria for current alcohol or substance use disorder and have used alcohol/substances in the 30 days prior to clinic treatment entry.
  • Meets DSM V criteria for current PTSD with a score greater than or equal to 25 on the CAPS 5.0.
  • Participants may also meet criteria for a mood or anxiety disorder. Participants on psychotropic medications for a mood or anxiety disorder must have been stabilized on medications for at least 4 weeks before therapy initiation.
  • Able to adequately provide informed consent and function at an intellectual level sufficient to allow accurate completion of all assessment instruments.
  • Willing to commit to 8 therapy sessions, baseline, weekly and follow-up assessments.

Exclusion criteria

  • Current primary psychotic or thought disorder (i.e. Schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, mania), major depression with suicidal ideation, dissociative identity disorder and/or homicidal ideations.
  • Present a serious suicide risk, such as those with severe depression, or who are likely to require hospitalization during the course of the study.
  • In ongoing therapy for PTSD either within or outside of the CC, who are not willing to discontinue these therapies for the duration of the study therapy,
  • Unstable medical condition or one that may require hospitalization during the course of the study.
  • Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

90 participants in 2 patient groups

Women receiving MBRP plus TAU
Experimental group
Women will receive the Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) plus treatment as usual (TAU less trauma focused group).
Behavioral: Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)
Women receiving TAU
No Intervention group
Women will only receive treatment as usual (TAU less trauma focused group).

Trial documents

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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