In a recent study, a mindfulness-based parent program significantly reduced stress levels of mothers in treatment for substance use disorder. Researchers from Jefferson’s Maternal Addiction Treatment Education and Research (MATER) Program recently published the results.
“The mothers who participated in the mindful parenting program reported a significant decrease in general stress and parenting-related stress,” said Diane J. Abatemarco, PhD, MSW, Vice Chair of Research and Director of MATER. “By the end of the program, participants’ stress levels were only slightly above the general U.S. population.”
Dr. Abatemarco, and her team, adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindful-Based Parenting courses to meet the unique needs of participants. Classes included meditation, group discussions, body awareness and parenting skill-building. Themes include self-compassion and non-judgment. Participants were asked to meditate for at least 5-15 minutes per day outside of class.
Women who struggle with addiction disorder often have significant adverse childhood exposure (ACE) to trauma. In fact, the participants in the study had an average exposure to 3.9 such events including psychological and emotional abuse and neglect. This study suggests that mindfulness can be a powerful tool to help women cope with those traumas.
“Given the consequences associated with maternal substance and opioid abuse for both parents and their children, addressing the impact of this epidemic should be a public health priority,” said Dr. Abatemarco.
Dr. Abatemarco’s team hopes to secure future funding to support mindfulness throughout substance abuse treatment and to implement mindfulness during pregnancy in this population. Additionally, Dr. Abatemarco believes that MATER’s work could be replicated in other communities.