Research Publication Title

Onset Drug Use and Mindfulness Changes in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare

Major

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Lee Gillis

Keywords

addiction, mindfulness, therapy, drug use, marijuana, wilderness therapy, outdoor behavioral healthcare

Abstract

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) has become an alternative treatment for behavioral, emotional, and substance use disorders (DeMille et al, 2018). While different depending on the program, OBH has been defined as the “prescriptive use of wilderness experiences by licensed mental health professionals to meet the therapeutic needs of clients” (Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare, 2014). In particular, OBH has been a growing treatment for individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), due in part to the growing opioid epidemic in North America (Vashishtha, Mittal, & Werb, 2017). Enviros Shunda Creek is an OBH program in Alberta, Canada, specializing in the treatment of young adult males with SUDs. This program utilizes a harm reduction model of addiction to help clients better understand the risks associated with substance use and how to minimize them, instead of abstinence-only. In accordance with this, Enviros Shunda Creek employs mindfulness-based experiences in treatment to help further emotional healing and insight during treatment. Participants fill out the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) at both intake and discharge from treatment. This survey provides insight on the participants in regards to the “five facets” of observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judging of inner experience, and non-reactivity to inner experience (Baer et al., 2006). Mindfulness experiences have been linked to beneficial outcomes, including the ability to decrease or alleviate distressing emotional states (Oberbillig, 2018, Norton & Peyton, 2017). However, research by Poudel & Gautam (2017) indicated that earlier onset age (17 or younger) of regular drug use was linked to greater severity in psychosocial problems among individuals with SUDs. These findings suggest that the change in mindfulness scores could be related to the onset age of drug use among individuals. In our study, we will be analyzing the relationship between the age at which Enviros Shunda participants began using drugs regularly and change in FFMQ scores.

Comments

IRB Exempt

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Onset Drug Use and Mindfulness Changes in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) has become an alternative treatment for behavioral, emotional, and substance use disorders (DeMille et al, 2018). While different depending on the program, OBH has been defined as the “prescriptive use of wilderness experiences by licensed mental health professionals to meet the therapeutic needs of clients” (Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare, 2014). In particular, OBH has been a growing treatment for individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), due in part to the growing opioid epidemic in North America (Vashishtha, Mittal, & Werb, 2017). Enviros Shunda Creek is an OBH program in Alberta, Canada, specializing in the treatment of young adult males with SUDs. This program utilizes a harm reduction model of addiction to help clients better understand the risks associated with substance use and how to minimize them, instead of abstinence-only. In accordance with this, Enviros Shunda Creek employs mindfulness-based experiences in treatment to help further emotional healing and insight during treatment. Participants fill out the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) at both intake and discharge from treatment. This survey provides insight on the participants in regards to the “five facets” of observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judging of inner experience, and non-reactivity to inner experience (Baer et al., 2006). Mindfulness experiences have been linked to beneficial outcomes, including the ability to decrease or alleviate distressing emotional states (Oberbillig, 2018, Norton & Peyton, 2017). However, research by Poudel & Gautam (2017) indicated that earlier onset age (17 or younger) of regular drug use was linked to greater severity in psychosocial problems among individuals with SUDs. These findings suggest that the change in mindfulness scores could be related to the onset age of drug use among individuals. In our study, we will be analyzing the relationship between the age at which Enviros Shunda participants began using drugs regularly and change in FFMQ scores.

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