Methods: This was a small-randomized controlled trial with a longitudinal design that examined the impact of meditation practice on a sample of 35 female trauma survivors of interpersonal abuses who had concurrent alcohol use diagnoses. Participating clients were randomly assigned to the intervention group (17) and the control group (15). Treatment conditions consisted of a six-week meditation curriculum devoted to Breathing-, Lovingkindness-, and Compassion Meditation. Data were collected at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 6-month follow-up. The study hypothesized that meditation would lead to a decrease in PTSD symptoms (Modified PTSD Symptom Scale, MPSS), increase in positive emotions (The Intensity and Time Affect Survey, ITAS), and increase in emotional regulation abilities (Structured Interview for Disorders of Extreme Distress, SIDES).
Results: Findings of repeated measures of ANOVA based on data of the three waves showed significant Time × Group interaction effects in MPSS Total Score [F (1, 18) =7.89, p = .012], MPSS Avoidance Subscale [F (1, 18) =6.75, p = .018], and MPSS Hyperarousal Subscale [F (1, 18) =6.09, p = .024]; ITAS Positive Emotion Score [F (1, 19) =15.83, p = .001], Joy Subscale [F (1, 19) =13.74, p = .001]; Love Subscale [F (1, 19) =13.83, p = .001]; and SIDES Disorders of affect regulation Subscale [F (1,15) =8.27, p = .012]. Positive changes in the intervention group from pre-treatment to post-treatment to 6-month follow-up were significantly greater than the changes observed in the control group in a positive direction.
Conclusions: While the intervention will need to be tested in a large-scale effectiveness study, meditation practice has the potential to provide a strengths-based and empowering method of treatment that allows clients to unfold their internal and personal resources in their recovery process. In terms of service provision, meditation provides a low-cost, non-intrusive, sustainable, and accessible intervention for helping clients in their recovery process.