Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work

Fall 9-24-2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Kurt M. Gehlert


Substance use disorder is a national pandemic that costs the United States up to 700 billion dollars a year in lost work, crime, and healthcare (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019). A growing body of research indicates that mindfulness is a potent intervention in the treatment of addiction with recent studies demonstrating its utility as a relapse prevention strategy (Bowen et al., 2014; Creswell, 2016). Though the body of knowledge on mindfulness is growing, qualitative research on the subject has focused primarily on manualized protocols (Harris, 2015). Phenomenological researchers have analyzed both mindfulness and substance use disorder as separate constructs but never as a single experience. This study investigates mindfulness in recovery (MR) as a single phenomenon and uses the Descriptive Phenomenological Method (DPM), to capture its essential structure (Giorgi, 2009). Using the experiences of five adult participants, this study yields results indicating that MR is a means of increasing awareness of the stressors and benefits inherent in the recovery process. What begins as a process of limited awareness transitions to the intentional application of awareness towards the addiction-impacted self. For a time, near-intolerable distress is disruptive until repetitive practice initiates a context- dependent beneficial insight and cathartic relief. Though distress does not necessarily dissipate with the use of mindfulness, the ability to tolerate, make meaning, and learn from thoughts, feelings, and behaviors increases. Thus, mindfulness supports and advances a substance-free, values-based lifestyle.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.