The National Institutes of Health is spending over $300,000 getting drunks to practice mindfulness meditation.
The Wake Forest University study will seek to curb the cravings of "moderate to high" drinkers, which the researchers define as low as just one drink per day for women, and two drinks for men.
"The scientific premise of the Wake Forest Translational Alcohol Research Center (WF-TARC) is that the neurobiological substrates that contribute to alcohol use disorder (AUD) vulnerability and resilience are not fully understood," according to the grant for the study. "Despite the fact that alcohol misuse contributes to 88,000 deaths in America each year, the effectiveness of currently available interventions is less than desirable and is demonstrated by relapse occurring in up to 70 [percent] of treated patients."
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"It is clear that we must better understand the neurobiology of AUD vulnerability so that patients can be identified early in the disease process and appropriate novel treatments can be developed," the grant states.
Novel solutions, the grant suggests, could include New Age mindfulness meditation, where a person thinks about their thoughts.
The study will track the daily drinking cravings of participants on their iPhones. The study defines "moderate-high alcohol drinkers" as 1 to 3 drinks per day for women, and 2 to 4 drinks per day for men. However, subjects in the study to prevent alcohol use disorder will not actually have AUD themselves.
"Participants must drink most days of the week but cannot have any history of, or currently meet criteria for, AUD," the grant states.
The study will "evaluate the effects of randomization to mindfulness meditation intervention versus a sham mindfulness intervention on the behavioral and brain characteristics associated with high craving in moderate-high alcohol drinkers."
It is unclear the difference between mindfulness and sham mindfulness.
"This will be the first placebo-controlled mindfulness meditation study to examine the behavioral and neural mechanisms supporting alcohol craving," according to the grant.
The researchers believe mindfulness will "significantly reduce" alcohol cravings.
"This project has the potential to guide the development of future clinical trials to better target clinical outcomes by understanding corresponding mechanisms supporting meditation-related reductions in alcohol craving," the grant states.
The study has received $318,876 from taxpayers.