Skip to Content
Skip to Navigation

Research Seeks to Improve Substance Use Disorder Treatment with a Unique Mind-Body Therapy


Date: November 14, 2013
Media Contact: Ashley Wiggin,, 206-221-2456

University of Washington School of Nursing Research Assistant Professor Cynthia Price, Ph.D., has received a $1.7 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to research a unique therapy designed to reduce the relapse rate in women treated for substance abuse.

Cynthia Price with patientCynthia Price with patient“Substance abuse affects millions of women nationwide,” said Price, “and even when the resources are available to treat these women, a substantial number relapse. There is an urgent need to improve our methods for helping women find a successful and sustainable solution to their chemical dependency.

“This research builds on positive results we had with Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT) as an adjunct to conventional al substance use disorder treatment programs.”

MABT addresses some of the issues that are most prevalent among women with substance use disorder, including depression and trauma.  More than two-thirds of women in treatment report being victims of childhood sexual abuse, and almost 40% were physically abused as children.  Research suggests that because of this abuse women are particularly prone to relapse in the face of interpersonal stress.

“Their histories make these women extremely vulnerable,” said Price. “They often have low self-esteem, and they lack the emotional resources to cope well when confronted with interpersonal stresses that many people would consider routine.”

Price developed MABT to teach sensory awareness and tools for emotion regulation.  The MABT intervention is delivered as an adjunct to conventional substance use disorder treatment. MABT seeks to address the physiological and psychological components that most often lead back to substance abuse by altering the way in which women respond when confronted with stressful situations.

“There is a physiologically-based disruption in the way these women process internal sensory inputs,” said Price. “MABT combines several techniques to enable women to better identify, self-regulate, and manage their emotions.

“The goal of MABT is to help women learn a new and more adaptive set of responses,” said Price. “Instead of avoidance and disengagement, MABT encourages new and more positive self-care strategies for dealing with stressful situations.”

The current study, which will last approximately four years involves 225 women at two outpatient treatment facilities.

“Establishing the efficacy of MABT from this research would have important implications for women’s substance use disorder treatment,” said Price. “If we can find a way to improve the success rate for those undergoing treatment, it will save lives, reduce law enforcement costs, and enable us to use the available resources to treat more people.”


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently a top-rated nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service. For more information, visit