As we all know, addictive habits are pretty difficult to break. From cutting down refined sugar intake to alcohol and in-between, there are gold-standard interventions with varying success rates. A new potential kid on the block is mindfulness: a mental capacity to approach the present moment experience with a curious and non-reactive attitude.
Research in the past few years is beginning to indicate that mindfulness practice has a potential to be an effective intervention to break bad habits. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) published in the journal of Drug Alcohol Dependence (2011) suggested that mindfulness training was more effective as compared to gold-standard treatment in getting people to quit smoking. Another study published in International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology (2017) indicated that short (11 minute) mindfulness training significantly reduced the alcohol intake among participants. This study was a randomized double-blind active control experiment. Dr. Judson Brewer, a specialist in addictive behaviors, also gave out a TED talk laying out the mechanism in which mindfulness may be helpful in breaking bad habits. A journalist, Keri Wiginton, wrote of her own experience of quitting alcohol with mindfulness in The Washington Post recently (Jan 5, 2018)
Mindfulness practice, it turns out, works on the brain circuits responsible for reward-based habits and actions.