Online Program

Mindfulness based relapse prevention for male, drug-using jail inmates

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thomas Lyons, PhD, HIV/AIDS Research and Policy Institute, Chicago State University, Chicago, IL
Wm. Dustin Cantrell, Ph.D., Chicago State University, Chicago, IL
Veronica Womack, Ph.D., Faculty Affairs, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Background:   More than half of jail and prison inmates in the United States are estimated to have a substance use disorder, and prisoners convicted of drug offenses have high rates of recidivism.  Interventions that cultivate mindfulness—defined as the awareness and acceptance of present moment experience--through meditation and yoga have been shown to be effective in community drug treatment. While limited mindfulness research has been conducted in prisons, no mindfulness-based interventions have been developed for jails, despite the fact that there are more than ten times as many releases from jail as from prison in the US each year.

Methods: We recruited successive cohorts of male volunteers (n = 50) in a jail drug treatment program into either six weeks of Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, adapted for the limited length of jail stays, or a comparison cognitive behavioral condition. Fifty-nine percent of the sample were African American and 16 percent were Latino; more than half had been previously arrested five or more times.  At baseline and post intervention, we administered the Beck Anxiety Inventory, PTSD Symptom Checklist, Penn Drug Craving Scale, and the Five Facets Mindfulness Inventory.

Results: At baseline, 46 percent of participants met criteria for PTSD, and 15 percent reported moderate to high anxiety levels, both of which were inversely correlated with mindfulness.  Preliminary analysis showed significant reductions in anxiety scores (t = 2.43, p < 0.02) and PTSD symptom scores (t = 3.23, p < 0.01) between pre- and post-intervention in the mindfulness group.

Conclusions: Enrollment and interventions are ongoing in this cohort-based study (total n = 300).  We anticipate that the mindfulness group will exhibit greater reductions in psychological symptoms and fewer arrests post-release than the comparison group. We discuss implications of and barriers to disseminating a mindfulness approach in US jails for reducing recidivism.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Define a mindfulness approach to drug treatment in jail and prison settings. Compare psychological and post-release arrest outcomes for inmates in a mindfulness curriculum versus cognitive behavioral treatment. Identify barriers to dissemination of a mindfulness approach in jail and prison settings.

Keyword(s): Prisoners Health, Drug Abuse Treatment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a medical anthropologist with a decade of experience in research in substance abuse and HIV. I am the principal investigator and program director of a National Institute on Drug Abuse funded grant to develop mindfulness interventions in jail drug treatment.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.