A cross-sectional study published in the July edition of Drug and Alcohol Dependence concludes that the application of dispositional mindfulness may mediate the risk for opioid misuse in patients with chronic pain who are on long-term opioid therapy. The practice can attenuate opioid craving and redirect attention to naturally rewarding stimuli, according to the authors, who write that “…dispositional mindfulness, which is associated with reduced craving and increased responsiveness to natural rewards, may serve as a protective factor and buffer opioid misuse risk.” Dispositional mindfulness can be defined as a keen awareness and attention to thoughts and feelings in the present moment. According to advocates, it can feel like a thoughtful attunement with what is going on inside the parameters of the mind and body. The mindful processing of emotional and physical sensations in this way can steer responses and choices.
In the study, data from 3 samples of chronic pain patients treated with opioid therapy from the Southeastern and Intermountain West regions of the US were tested for relationship between measures of opioid misuse, opioid craving, and mindfulness. Across all 3 samples, an inverse relation was noted between mindfulness and opioid misuse. Noted limitations of the study included a restricted geographic region and the lack of a proven causal relationship between mindfulness and risk for misuse. Nonetheless, the authors conclude that “Given the enormity of the prescription opioid crisis and the resurgence of heroin addiction in the United States, the effort to identify cost-effective interventions that can boost malleable resilience mechanisms like dispositional mindfulness should be treated with heightened urgency by researchers, clinicians, and policymakers alike.”
Read a news story about the research findings.
The journal abstract may be read here.
More information on dispositional mindfulness.
Posted on June 11, 2018