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addiction, mind-body, mindfulness, substance use disorder treatment, women



  1. Price, Cynthia PhD, MA, LMT
  2. Smith-DiJulio, Kathleen PhD


Background: It is postulated that interventions aimed at facilitating interoceptive awareness (i.e., awareness of inner body sensations) may facilitate regulation and improve substance use disorder (SUD) treatment outcomes.


Objective: The aim of the study was to better understand the role of interoceptive training in SUD treatment, an identified gap in the literature.


Methods: On the basis of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded pilot randomized clinical trial that used a two-group repeated measures design to examine mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy (MABT) for women in SUD treatment, this study examined the experience of a subset of participants that received and completed MABT intervention in the larger original study. In a qualitative study using a single focus group, participants were asked to respond to multiple questions regarding their current use of interoceptive awareness skills, perceived benefit, learning processes, and suggestions for program development. Interpretive analysis was used to describe the themes that emerged from the focus group responses.


Results: Participants consistently used interoceptive awareness self-care skills learned in MABT. Interoceptive awareness training and daily practice were perceived as critical for emotional awareness, regulation, and relapse prevention. In addition, findings highlight the relevance of MABT educational strategies such as touch and individual delivery to teach interoceptive awareness and self-care skills for women in SUD treatment.


Conclusion: These findings suggest the positive role of interoceptive awareness in promoting relapse prevention among women in SUD treatment, important for guiding future research, and program development for this population that apply across healthcare disciplines.