Open Access Research article

Pilot randomized trial on mindfulness training for smokers in young adult binge drinkers

James M Davis12*, David M Mills1, Kristin A Stankevitz1, Alison R Manley1, Matthew R Majeskie1 and Stevens S Smith12

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 1930 Monroe Street, Suite 200, 53711 Madison, WI, USA

2 Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 1685 Highland Avenue, 53705 Madison, WI, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:215  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-215

Published: 3 September 2013



We report results of a pilot study designed to test a novel smoking cessation intervention, Mindfulness Training for Smokers (MTS), in smokers age 18-29 years with regular episodes of binge drinking. Mindfulness is a cognitive skill of applying close moment-to-moment attention to experience with a mental posture of acceptance and non-reactivity. The MTS intervention consisted of six weekly classes that provided instruction on how to use mindfulness to manage known precursors of smoking relapse including smoking triggers, strong emotions, stressful situations, addictive thoughts, urges, and withdrawal symptoms.


The MTS intervention was compared to Interactive Learning for Smokers (ILS), a time/intensity matched control group using daily non-directed walking instead of mindfulness meditation. Recruitment was conducted primarily at local technical colleges. Primary outcome measures included biochemically-confirmed smoking abstinence and reduction in alcohol use at the end of treatment (2-weeks post-quit attempt).


The sample (N = 55) was 70.9% male, with a mean age of 21.9 years, and a mean of 11.76 alcoholic drinks consumed per week. Intent-to-treat analysis showed biochemically-confirmed 7-day point prevalence abstinence rates at 2-weeks post-quit for MTS = 20.0% and ILS = 4.0%, p = .08. Secondary analysis showed number of drinks per week in the first 2-weeks post-quit correlated with smoking relapse at 2-weeks post-quit (p < .01).


This pilot study demonstrated that Mindfulness Training for Smokers shows promise for smoking cessation and alcohol use reduction in treating young adult smokers with alcohol abuse. Results suggest the need for a study with larger sample size and methods that reduce attrition.

Trial registration, NCT01679236

Smoking; Tobacco; Alcohol; Mindfulness; Young adult