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Project duration: 09/2000-08/2003
Sponsor: National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Award: $294,835

The broad, long-term objectives of this project were to reduce alcohol and other drug problems and related criminal recidivism among incarcerated individuals through development of a spiritually-based meditation intervention, and to develop a better understanding of the role of spirituality in promoting change following participation in such an intervention. The specific aims of the research were to: (1) evaluate the effectiveness of Vipassana meditation for reducing alcohol use, alcohol- related negative consequences, and criminal recidivism in a correctional population; (2) evaluate several domains of spirituality as potential mediators of the effectiveness of Vipassana meditation on alcohol and substance abuse outcomes among inmates who volunteer for the meditation program, and (3) evaluate participant characteristics as predictors of willingness to volunteer to participate Vipassana meditation. Effectiveness was evaluated through a 6-month follow-up of inmates from the North Rehabilitation Facility in King Country (Seattle) Washington, who voluntarily participated in a Vipassana meditation course, compared to case-matched controls identified from a random sample of inmates drawn from the same population at the same time. Vipassana participants and case-matched controls completed baseline, post-intervention, 3- and 6-month assessments of alcohol and substance use and problems, substance use diagnosis, psychiatric symptoms, several multidimensional measures of spirituality and religiosity, and social desirability. In addition, criminal history and recidivism were obtained through extraction from King County and Washington State records, including arrests, incarcerations, probation violations, and convictions. Vipassana volunteers were compared to a random sample of 500 male and 110 female, inmates at baseline, to evaluate predictors of volunteering for Vipassana.

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