, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 320–328 | Cite as

An Examination of Mindfulness-Based Experiences Through Adventure in Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Young Adult Males: a Pilot Study

  • Keith C. RussellEmail author
  • H. L. Lee Gillis
  • Whitney Heppner


The aims of this exploratory pilot study were to examine how a substance use disorder (SUD) treatment program for young adult males integrated mindfulness-based experiences into the treatment process, and to assess the impact of these experiences on the development of mindfulness skills and treatment outcome. The study utilized a within-subject naturalistic mixed-method design that integrated quantitative and qualitative data where all participants who entered treatment and agreed to participate in the evaluation were included in the data collection. A total of 32 young men were included in the analysis with an average age of 22.9 years. Statistically significant changes in scores on the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) from pre- to post-treatment were noted for all clients as a result of treatment, and these changes were strongly correlated to treatment outcome as indicated by statistically significant changes in total OQ-45.2 scores. Clients also showed specific improvement in scores on mindfulness skills related to the nonjudging and nonreactivity facets of the FFMQ which were related to reductions in the client’s overall subjective distress as measured by the OQ-45.2. Qualitative findings from analysis of client comments support these findings and highlight client perspective of the value of mindfulness-based experiences in addictions treatment. Despite the limitations inherent in this exploratory study, mindfulness-based experiences (MBEs) are discussed as a promising approach in the treatment of SUD and suggest further research in this area of addiction treatment.


Mindfulness Mindfulness-based interventions Mindfulness-based relapse prevention Mindfulness-based experiences Adventure therapy FFMQ OQ-45.2 


  1. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13, 27–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Lykins, E., Button, D., Krietemeyer, J., Sauer, S., & Williams, J. M. G. (2008). Construct validity of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire in meditating and no meditating samples. Assessment, 15(3), 329–342.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bettman, J. E., Russell, K. C., & Parry, K. J. (2012). How substance abuse recovery skills, readiness to change and symptom reduction impact change processes in wilderness therapy participants. Journal of Child and Family Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10826-012-9665-2.Google Scholar
  4. Black, D. S. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions: an antidote to suffering in the context of substance use, misuse, and addiction. Substance Use and Misuse, 49(5), 487–491. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2014.860749.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Black, D. S., Milam, J., & Sussman, S. (2009). Sitting-meditation interventions among youth: a review of treatment efficacy. Pediatrics, 124(3), 532–541. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-3434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bohlmeijer, E., Peter, M., Fledderus, M., Veehof, M., & Baer, R. (2011). Psychometric properties of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire in depressed adults and development of a short form. Assessment, 30(8), 1045–1054.Google Scholar
  7. Bowen, S., Witkiewitz, K., Dillworth, T. M., Chawla, N., Simpson, T. L., Ostafin, B. D., & Marlatt, G. A. (2006). Mindfulness meditation and substance use in an incarcerated population. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 20(3), 343–347. doi: 10.1037/0893-164X.20.3.343.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bowen, S., Chawla, N., Collins, S. E., Witkiewitz, K., Hsu, S., & Marlatt, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for substance use disorders: A pilot efficacy trial. Substance Abuse, 30(4), 295–305. doi: 10.1080/08897070903250084.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowen, S., Chawla, N., & Marlatt, G. A. (2010). Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for substance use disorders: a clinician’s guide. NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bowen, S., Witkiewitz, K., Clifasefi, S. L., Grow, J., Chawla, N., Hsu, S. H., & Larimer, M. E. (2014). Relative efficacy of mindfulness-based relapse prevention, standard relapse prevention, and treatment as usual for substance use disorders: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 71(5), 547–556.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Bryant, F. B. (1989). A four-factor model of perceived control: avoiding, coping, obtaining, and savoring. Journal of Personality, 57(4), 773–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2013). Are mindfulness-based interventions effective for substance use disorders? A systematic review of the evidence. Substance Use & Misuse, 48, 492–512. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2013.770027.Google Scholar
  13. Durham, C. J., McGrath, L. D., Burlingame, G. M., Schaalje, G. B., Lambert, M. J., & Davies, D. R. (2002). The effects of repeated administrations on self-report and parent-report scales. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 20(3), 240–257. doi: 10.1177/073428290202000302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fernandez, A. C., Wood, M. D., Stein, L. A. R., & Rossi, J. S. (2010). Measuring mindfulness and examining its relationship with alcohol use and negative consequences. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 24(4), 608–616. doi: 10.1037/a0021742.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Garland, E. L., & Roberts-Lewis, A. (2013). Differential roles of thought suppression and dispositional mindfulness in posttraumatic stress symptoms and craving. Addictive Behaviors, 38(2), 1555–1562.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Garland, E. L., Gaylord, S. A., Boettiger, C. A., & Howard, M. O. (2010). Mindfulness training cognitive, affective, and physiological mechanisms implicated in alcohol dependence: results of a randomized controlled pilot trial. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 42, 177–192. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2010.10400690.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Garland, E. L., Froeliger, B. E., & Howard, M. O. (2013). Mindfulness training targets neurocognitive mechanisms of addiction at the attention-appraisal-emotion interface. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 4, 173. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00173.PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Garland, E. L., Froeliger, B., & Howard, M. O. (2014a). Effects of mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement on reward responsiveness and opioid cue-reactivity. Psychopharmacology, 231(16), 3229–3238. doi: 10.1007/s00213-014-3504-7.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Garland, E. L., Manusov, E. G., Froeliger, B., Kelly, A., Williams, J. M., & Howard, M. O. (2014b). Mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement for chronic pain and prescription opioid misuse: Results from an early-stage randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82(3), 448–459. doi: 10.1037/a0035798.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Gass, M., Gillis, H. L., & Russell, K. C. (2012). Adventure therapy: theory, practice and research. New York: Routledge Mental Health Publishing.Google Scholar
  21. Goodman, J. D., McKay, J. R., & DePhilippis, D. (2013). Progress monitoring in mental health and addiction treatment: a means of improving care. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 44(4), 231–246. doi: 10.1037/a0032605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Green, L. W. (2006). Public health asks of systems science: to advance our evidence-based practice, can you help us get more practice-based evidence? American Journal of Public Health, 96(3), 406–409. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.066035.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Kelly, M. M., Latta, R. E., & Gimmestad, K. (2012). Acceptance and mindfulness-based tobacco cessation interventions for individuals with mental health disorders. Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 8, 89–98. doi: 10.1080/15504263.2012.670846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lambert, M. J., Burlingame, G. M., Umphress, V., Hansen, N. B., Vermeersch, D. A., Clouse, G. C., et al. (1996). The reliability and validity of the outcome questionnaire. Clinical & Psychological Psychotherapy, 3, 249–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lambert, M. J., Whipple, J. L., Hawkins, E. J., Vermeersch, D. A., Nielsen, S. L., & Smart, D. W. (2003). Is it time for clinicians to routinely track patient outcome? A meta‐analysis. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(3), 288–301.Google Scholar
  26. Lambert, M. J., Kahler, M., Harmon, C., Burlingame, G. M., & Shimokawa, K. (2011). Administration & scoring manual for the Outcome Questionnaire-45.2. Salt Lake City: OQMeasures.Google Scholar
  27. Levin, M. E., Dalrymple, K., & Zimmerman, M. (2013). Which facets of mindfulness predict the presence of substance use disorders in an outpatient psychiatric sample? Psychiatry of Addictive Behaviors, 28(2), 498–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McCollister, K. E., French, M. T., Freitas, D. M., Dennis, M. L., Scott, C. K., & Funk, R. R. (2013). Cost-effectiveness analysis of recovery management checkups (RMC) for adults with chronic substance use disorders: evidence from a 4-year randomized trial. Addiction, 108, 2166–2174. doi: 10.1111/add.12335.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: an expanded sourcebook (2nd ed.). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Morse, J. M., & Niehaus, L. (2009). Mixed method design: principles and procedures. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  31. Patton, M. (2003). Utilization-focused evaluation. In T. Kellaghan & D. Stufflebeam (Eds.), International handbook of educational evaluation (Vol. 9, pp. pp. 223–242). Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Quoidbach, J., Berry, E. V., Hansenne, M., & Mikolajczak, M. (2010). Positive emotion regulation and well-being: comparing the impact of eight savoring and dampening strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(5), 368–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schibbye, P., Ghaderi, A., Ljótsson, B., Hedman, E., Lindefors, N., Rück, C., et al. (2014). Using early change to predict outcome in cognitive behaviour therapy: exploring timeframe, calculation method, and differences of disorder-specific versus general measures. PloS One, 9(6), e100614.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Schmitt, N., & Kuljanin, G. (2008). Measurement invariance: review of practice and implications. Human Resource Management Review, 18, 210–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Slade, K., Lambert, M. J., Harmon, S. C., Smart, D. W., & Bailey, R. (2008). Improving psychotherapy outcome: the use of immediate electronic feedback and revised clinical support tools. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 15(5), 287–303. doi: 10.1002/cpp.594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Urban, J. B., & Trochim, W. (2009). The role of evaluation in research-practice integration: working toward the “golden spike”. American Journal of Evaluation, 30(4), 538–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Vandenberg, R. J., & Lance, C. E. (2000). A Review and synthesis of the measurement invariance literature: suggestions, practices and recommendations for organizational research. Organizational Research Methods, 3, 4–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vermeersch, D. A., Lambert, M. J., & Burlingame, G. M. (2000). Outcome questionnaire: item sensitivity to change. Journal of Personality Assessment, 74(2), 242–261.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Winters, K. C., & Henly, G. A. (1989). Personal experience inventory and manual. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  40. Witkiewitz, K., Marlatt, G. A., & Walker, D. (2005). Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for alcohol and substance use disorders. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy Special Issue: State-of-the-Art in Behavioral Interventions for Substance use Disorders, 19(3), 211–228. doi: 10.1891/jcop.2005.19.3.211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Witkiewitz, K., Warner, K., Sully, B., Barricks, A., Stauffer, C., Thompson, B. L., et al. (2014). Randomized trial comparing mindfulness-based relapse prevention with relapse prevention for women offenders at a residential addiction treatment center. Substance Use & Misuse, 49(5), 536–546. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2013.856922.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zgierska, A., Rabago, D., Chawla, N., Kushner, K., Koehler, R., & Marlatt, A. (2009). Mindfulness meditation for substance use disorders: a systematic review. Substance Abuse, 30, 266–294. doi: 10.1080/08897070903250019.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health and Human DevelopmentWestern Washington UniversityBellinghamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological ScienceGeorgia College & State UniversityMilledgevilleUSA

Personalised recommendations