Treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy are thought to act through the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that helps us control the anxiety to smoke a cigarette or to repeat the continuous intake of sweets. Unfortunately, like the rest of the body, the prefrontal cortex is subject to fatigue, described by some as “ego depletion”. According to the article, mindfulness sessions could contribute to individuals improving their control over anxiety and thus be able to quit addictions to tobacco or other drugs.

Based on ancient Buddhist psychology, mindfulness helps individuals pay careful attention to their cravings, in such a way that they can see what they are made up of –thoughts and body sensations. Importantly, with this awareness, they can notice cravings as they arise, see how they change from moment to moment and, as a result, stay with them and ride them out instead of acting on them. This dual purpose of mindfulness, disenchantment and being able to be with ourselves instead of reacting automatically, could contribute positively in the treatment of addictions.

In one randomized clinical trial, we found that it was twice as good as the gold standard treatment in helping people quit and stay that way. Why would it work so well? Because mindfulness targets the core addictive loop and helps individuals to reduce their anxiety. However, the article states that more research is needed in these type of therapies for the treatment and prevention of addictions. Moreover, these therapies could support other mental health treatments. A clear example is the study conducted by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, published in the Lancet magazine, mentioned on the Soma&Psy website some time ago. It shows the effectiveness of Mindfulness as a cognitive therapy for antidepressant treatment.


Source: Brewer J, Pbert L. Mindfulness: An Emerging Treatment for Smoking and other Addictions? Journal of Family Medicine, September 2015. Available at: