Mindfulness-based meditation and other contemplative practices have been the focus of intensive research at the intersection of neuroscience, clinical psychology, and addiction research. Mindfulness involves intentional regulation of attention to and awareness of the present moment, and nonjudgmental acceptance of the ongoing flow of sensations, thoughts, and/or emotional states. Recent studies suggest that mindfulness meditation (MM) training may be effective in the treatment of substance use disorders. Key research questions include: What is the relationship between mindfulness as a dispositional trait and substance use? How does MM reduce the negative affect associated with drug relapse? And finally, among populations suffering from disproportionate health and criminal justice consequences of illicit drug use, can MM be adapted and disseminated as an effective treatment for substance abuse and addiction? The Chicago State University Urban Mindfulness and Addictions Research (CUMAR) program is collaboration between faculty in pharmacy, public health, social work, counseling, and psychology. The primary research project will be to develop a culturally tailored, MM-based relapse prevention intervention for incarcerated substance users, and test its efficacy in preventing relapse and recidivism. A basic science pilot project focuses on the role of the endogenous end cannabinoid system in regulating anxiety symptoms of drug withdrawal. The second pilot study focuses on enhancing case management through MM training of case managers to reduce stress and improve interpersonal practice skills. The third pilot study explores the association between trait/dispositional mindfulness, substance use, and medication adherence in a population of substance users involved in the criminal justice system. The overall alms of the program are thus to advance the neuroscience of mindfulness;to apply it to reducing drug use and addiction among persons involved in the criminal justice system;to improve delivery of substance abuse case management;and to train and inspire a new generation of researchers from underrepresented groups.
The focus of the proposed program will be on mindfulness and drug abuse in urban communities of color, an area that has been understudied. The program promises to lead to sustainable drug abuse research programs and curricula that will have maximal impact within the communities of color affected by drug abuse and its consequences.