Senior Research Proposal

Abstract

Substance abuse is a common problem that is difficult to treat, despite the availability of various treatment programs. Mindfulness-based therapy is a potential alternative to treatment for those who wish to reduce or treat addictions to harmful substances; this method involves mindfulness techniques such as relaxation, deep breathing, and focusing on the present moment through various forms of meditation. In this study, we propose to apply a mindfulness-based therapy treatment program on half of the participants while the other half serve as a  control group and receive no treatment. We will measure the total number of days the participants use harmful substances through administering the drugs and alcohol portion of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) at specific points before, during, immediately after, and 6 months after treatment. We predict that mindfulness-based therapy will have a significant positive effect on participants and hope to show this therapy as an effective treatment for those with substance abuse disorders.

Participants

The participants of this study will be 100 full-time college students from around the US who have been addicted to one or more harmful substances for at least 2 years, and who have not previously undergone treatment or enrolled in any type of drug prevention program.

Materials

The participants will be asked to complete only the drugs and alcohol portion of McLellan’s Addiction Severity Index (ASI); it consists of a series of 13 commonly abused substances as well as the option, “more than one substance per day”. This will be used to determine the number of days in the past month they have used the drugs on the list. The number of days each drug was used will be summed to arrive at the total number of days any substances were used before, during, and immediately after, and 6 months after treatment.

Procedure

Participants will be recruited through online advertisements, flyers, and handouts. They will be screened to ensure they have not previously undergone treatment. All participants will complete the ASI one week before beginning therapy. I will randomly select half of the participants to enroll in a mindfulness-based therapy class in which they will be taught to practice meditation and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing by a certified professional; they will be asked to attend this hour-long class at least 3 times per week for a period of 3 months, and encouraged to practice the learned techniques as often as they feel necessary. The other half of the participants will serve as a control group and receive no treatment. Both groups will be asked to complete the ASI halfway through the 3 month period and immediately after the 3 month period. We will also collect pertinent permanent contact information from each participant in order to administer the ASI 6 months after the end of therapy to see long-term changes.

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