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Effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation Program in
Criminal Rehabilitation and Substance Abuse Recovery:
A Review of the Research

MARK A. HAWKINS
Maharishi University of Management

This article reviews research on the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program relevant to the treatment and prevention of criminal behavior and substance abuse. Over the past 30 years, 39 studies have been conducted on the rehabilitative effects of the TM program. These studies have involved various populations, including at-risk youths, participants in treatment programs, and incarcerated offenders. A few studies examined the effects of the TM program in the general population on use of alcohol, cigarettes, and non-prescribed drugs. Longitudinal, random-assignment studies with objective measures confirm the results of retrospective studies and other earlier research. Incarcerated offenders show rapid positive changes in risk factors associated with criminal behavior, including anxiety, aggression, hostility, moral judgment, in-prison rule infractions, and substance abuse. The substance abuse studies, taken together, indicate that the TM program reduces substance use as well as a number of the risk factors that underlie substance dependence, particularly anxiety, depression, neuroticism, and other forms of psychological distress. The TM program also produces a wide range of improvements in psychophysiological well-being, as indicated by better psychological health, enhanced autonomic functioning, and improved neuroendocrine balance. The changes in psychological health appear significant for long-term outcomes, as indicated by the lower recidivism rates for parolee practitioners of the TM technique and lower relapse rates for addicts. As a whole, these studies indicate that practice of the TM technique is an effective approach to rehabilitation for individuals prone to criminal behaviors and addictions.

KEYWORDS Substance abuse, criminal behavior, Transcendental Meditation, TM, crime prevention