PULLMAN — A federal grant recently received by Chicago State University will allow it to experiment using meditation and yoga to treat people with a substance abuse addiction, health sciences professor Thomas Lyons said.
The five-year, $1.97 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will fund its Urban Mindfulness and Addictions Research program, which will begin treating male inmates at the Cook County Jail in March, Lyons said. Over the next three years the program would treat up to 300 inmates, who are already receiving substance abuse treatment, on a volunteer basis.
The goal of the program, Lyons said, is to advance the neuroscience of mindfulness; to apply it to reducing drug use and relapse among people in the criminal justice system; to improve delivery of substance abuse treatment and medication management; and to train and inspire a new generation of researchers at Chicago State.
If "this pilot program is successful we hope this treatment would become another option to treat substance abuse. It is important to develop programs for people in jail," said Lyons, who is also the principal investigator for the program.
A spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart did not return calls seeking comment.
Lyons said research has shown that using yoga and meditation to treat substance abuse has positive results.
"We’ll compare meditation and yoga to an existing classroom-style intervention, and we’ll see which strategy best reduces both stress symptoms in jail, and drug relapse after the participants are released from jail," Lyons said.
Lyons said the university will seek more funding for the program with hopes of someday building a research center on campus.