Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) treatment for women with substance use disorder (SUD) can improve interoceptive awareness and mindfulness skills and emotion regulation and decrease cravings and depressive symptoms, according to research published in Substance Abuse.

These findings are consistent with emerging neurocognitive models linking interoception to emotion regulation and related health outcomes, providing valuable input in improving SUD treatment.

Researchers examined immediate pre- and posteffects of MABT as an adjunct to SUD treatment among 217 women in intensive outpatient treatment for chemical dependency in 3 community clinics in the US Pacific Northwest. Enrolled patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 study conditions: MABT and treatment as usual, Women’s Health Education and treatment as usual, or treatment as usual only. Assessments of interoceptive awareness skills and mindfulness, emotion regulation self-report and psychophysiological measures, depression and trauma-related symptoms, and substance use and craving data were collected at baseline, the 3-month mark, and postintervention. Researchers assessed changes in outcome across time through a multilevel mixed effects linear regression.

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The study’s limitations include that it was conducted exclusively in women and that participants’ socioeconomic statuses were generally low, suggesting that the findings may not generalize to other populations. In addition, the long-term outcomes of MABT were not examined, although such assessments are forthcoming.

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The findings demonstrate that MABT significantly improved patients’ interoceptive awareness compared with Women’s Health Education and treatment as usual. This is particularly significant, given the brief intervention timeline and accounting for the high level of distress and interpersonal trauma histories among patients.

“The high participant satisfaction, as well as clinical staff satisfaction as seen in our prior study of implementation feasibility, suggest that integrating MABT within the context of women’s SUD treatment is highly achievable,” the researchers concluded.


Price CJ, Thompson EA, Crowell SE, et al. Immediate effects of interoceptive awareness training through Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) for women in substance use disorder treatment, substance abuse [published online June 27, 2018]. Subst Abus. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2018.1488335

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor