Understanding Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

Derived from ancient Buddhist philosophy Mindfulness is an increased awareness of thoughts, bodily sensations, feelings, and the surrounding environment.

In recent times mindfulness meditation practices and activities have increasingly been integrated into secular health care settings and rehabilitation centres

Jon Kabat Zinn is the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society.

He has done a great deal to popularise the philosophy and defined it as Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and without judging.’

What is the difference between being Mindless and being Mindful?

Mindlessness is an inactive state of mind that is characterized by a reliance on distinctions drawn in the past. When people are mindless, they can become stuck in a rigid or fixed perspective.

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The past can dominate and dictate behaviour.

Rules and routines govern rather than guide what they do. This can stop people being aware of subtle changes that would have led them to behave differently.

Substance misuse is an example of that human automatic drive to move toward pleasure and away from pain.

Mindfulness is consciously deciding what to pay attention to, we are not worrying about the past or constantly anxious about the future and we are not trying to control or stop our thoughts or feelings – we’re just noticing them.

Who developed Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention?

Developed by Drs Alan Marlatt, Sarah Bowen, and Neha Chawla of the University of Washington, MBRP integrates mindfulness practices with evidence-based cognitive and behavioural strategies.

By focusing on two of the main predictors of relapse: negative emotions and cravings it aims to get to the root of addictive behaviour.

What research is there that proves that it works?

There is currently a great deal of excitement about this approach due to the positive results of a small but growing number of well-designed clinical trials and lab studies on mindfulness-based interventions for treating addiction.


Researchers at the University of Washington studied 286 people who had successfully completed a substance abuse treatment program.

It found that a treatment program that incorporates mindfulness meditation produced better results. One year after treatment, about 9 per cent of participants in the mindfulness program reported drug use whilst other methods that didn’t incorporate Mindfulness were less successful.

Research indicates that meditation is found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in areas of the brain that are associated with the regulation of attention and emotion.

It can also help to reduce brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress.

This indicates that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our perception and feelings as well.

Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

A study by Sara Lazar (Assistant professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School). and her team found that after meditation training,

“Changes in brain areas linked to arousal and mood were also linked to improvements in how participants said they felt — i.e., their psychological well-being,

Mindfulness Meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.” 

 Sarah Bowen commented in an interview (MBRP Interview in Huffington Post, 2015):

 “. . . it’s helping people become really aware of what’s happening in their minds. Once they see that, they have a choice and they have some freedom. . . . There’s a tremendous amount of trust and respect in this program. I think where it’s really different is that we’re looking at the human condition and what it means to be human, much more than simply asking, “How are you going to not use drugs again?” That’s where it’s a radical shift. . . .”

What does Camino offer?

Here at Camino, we offer Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) to all clients.

The bespoke and tailored program we offer means we ask clients ‘what’s needed?’ allowing us to focus on what resonates and attunes with them.

We tailor activities to individuals, giving them the opportunity and a safe space to take part in practices and meditations to increase awareness of triggering thoughts, automatic reactions and habitual patterns.

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Rather than fighting or avoiding the difficult states of mind that arise when withdrawing from a substance, this combination tries to help participants to name and tolerate craving and negative emotion.

Examples of activities include meditations on developing kindness and compassion for ourselves, increasing breath and body awareness, resting in the present moment, dealing with depression, anxiety and other negative states and mindful eating.

Our Mindfulness Practitioner Sally Harland is on hand to offer the theoretical and practical experience of using this technique that clients will be able to incorporate into their new lives. 

This is used as part of a large and diverse range of therapeutic processes that Camino offers to ensure a lasting and enjoyable recovery. 

Please contact us for more information or if you’d like a confidential and free chat with one of our highly-trained professionals.
Email: enquiries@www.caminorecovery.com or call us in Spain +34 951 107 195 or UK +44 (0)7492 426615

David Scourfield

David Scourfield is a Camino Recovery team member since 2017, focused on facilitating communication with Clinical and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive understanding of Camino's program.

Combining his marketing skills and lived experiences, he joined Camino in 2017, contributing to external publications and the Camino website. With a strong belief in solidarity during the recovery process, David helps clients build support networks by connecting them with others in recovery.

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