A Role for Mindfulness and Mindfulness Training in Substance Use Prevention

  • Nathaniel R. RiggsEmail author
  • Mark T. Greenberg
  • Kamila Dvorakova
Part of the Advances in Prevention Science book series (Adv. Prevention Science)


Laudable progress has occurred over the past 30 years in the field of substance use prevention, with several empirically supported, or “evidence-based,” preventive interventions. However, many other programs fail to affect meaningful change on measures directly related to substance use and even within efficacious programs subgroups of participants inevitably fail to benefit. Thus, significant progress remains to be made with respect to improving youth substance use prevention approaches.

One strategy for increasing the efficacy of substance use preventive interventions is to translate new approaches to promoting known modifiable generative mechanisms, or mediators. In this chapter we propose a role for mindfulness practice as a novel approach to youth substance use prevention. We first define mindfulness and describe hypothesized underlying neural circuits overlapping with those related to substance use initiation and progression to dependence. Efficacious mindfulness-based treatment strategies are then described, emphasizing where cessation and relapse prevention programs are hypothesized to repair functioning in underlying neuro-circuitry. We then propose mindfulness practice as a potential neuro-developmentally precise approach to youth substance use prevention, while recognizing that mindfulness approaches specifically applied to substance use prevention have yet to be systematically tested. Tested approaches for promoting mindfulness in children and adolescents in related fields are then reviewed. In so doing, we demonstrate the feasibility and acceptability of mindfulness practice for youth. Finally, conceptual and methodological considerations for the future application of mindfulness practice to substance use prevention are discussed.


Cognitive neuroscience theories Substance use disorder treatment Children and adolescents Research methods 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathaniel R. Riggs
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark T. Greenberg
    • 2
  • Kamila Dvorakova
    • 3
  1. 1.Human Development and Family StudiesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.National Institute of Mental HealthPragueCzech Republic

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