Alejandra Rebeca MELERO VENTOLA1, José Ramón YELA1*, Antonio CREGO1, María CORTÉS-RODRÍGUEZ2
1 Dr., Faculty of Psychology, Pontifical University of Salamanca, Spain
2 Faculty of Sciences, Department of Statistics, University of Salamanca, Spain
Mindfulness practices focus on increasing awareness and developing acceptance and compassionate attitudes. Mindfulness-based interventions have been suggested as a promising approach for the treatment of behavioral addictions involving automatic behavioral patterns, gambling related cognitions, drive for gambling and craving. This study compares the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) intervention with a mutual-aid group intervention, the standard intervention provided in pathological gamblers’ associations, in reducing gambling-related craving. A repeated-measures design was used involving 33 participants who first attended a mutual-aid group intervention and then received an 8 week MBCT training. The participants’ levels of mindfulness and craving (intensity, frequency and urge) were assessed before and after both interventions (T1, T2, and T3). The follow-up measures were performed one (T4), three (T5) and six months (T6) after the MBCT training. The results revealed that the mutual-aid group intervention produced only moderate reductions in craving intensity (η2=0.27). In contrast, the MBCT program significantly increased the scores of the mindfulness-related variables (η2 ranging from 0.84 to 0.99) and reduced the craving intensity (η2=0.95), frequency (η2=0.93) and urge (η2=0.91). Overall, the mindfulness scores were maintained at high levels, whereas the craving-related scores were low at the end of the MBCT intervention and at the one-month, three month, and six-month follow ups. As a practical implication, accurately describing feelings observed when craving arises, perceiving them as something transitory without judgment, and not reacting immediately to the internal experience, are dimensions of mindfulness associated with decreased craving in pathological gamblers.
Keywords: mindfulness; mutual-aid groups; craving; pathological gambling; mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
Published online: 2020/03/01
Published print: 2020/03/01