Reduce Alcohol-Related Choices to Alleviate Stress with Brief Meditation

Reduce Alcohol-Related Choices to Alleviate Stress with Brief Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditation has a pretty long list of reputed benefits, including everything from lowered stress levels to more effective (and mood-boosting) runs. It can help curb your craving for cocktails.” –  Rachel Lapidos

 

Inappropriate use of alcohol is a major societal problem. In fact, about 25% of US adults have engaged in binge drinking in the last month and 7% have what is termed an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse is very dangerous and frequently fatal. Nearly 88,000 people in the US and 3.3 million globally die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Drunk driving accounted for over 10,000 deaths; 31% of all driving fatalities. Excessive alcohol intake has been shown to contribute to over 200 diseases including alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries. It is estimated that over 5% of the burden of disease and injury worldwide is attributable to alcohol consumption. These are striking and alarming statistics and indicate that controlling alcohol intake is an important priority for the individual and society

 

It has been found that mindfulness training has been successfully applied to treating alcohol abuse. It appears to increase the ability of the drinker to control alcohol intake. Stress appears to increase cravings for alcohol and mindfulness training has been shown to reduce responses to stress. Since, mindfulness appears to hold promise as a treatment for excessive alcohol intake, there is a need to examine the ability of meditation training in reducing alcohol-related choices in response to stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “Ultra-brief breath counting (mindfulness) training promotes recovery from stress-induced alcohol-seeking in student drinkers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6959458/), Shuai and colleagues recruited university students who were not teetotalers. They viewed pairs of pictures of alcohol or food and were asked to choose one for enlargement. Then they were randomly assigned to listen to a 6-minute recording of either a passage from a book or breath counting instructions and counted their breaths. They then repeated the picture choice task but with loud and unpleasant industrial noise playing. They rated their subjective levels of happiness and annoyance before testing, after listening to the recordings, and at the end of the final picture choice session.

 

They found that the breath counting participants had a significant increase in happiness and decrease in annoyance following the breath counting while the control participants had a significant decrease in happiness and increase in annoyance. Also, the breath counting participants were significantly happier and less annoyed than the control participants after the stressful picture choice condition. Finally, they found that in the stressful condition both groups increased their choice of alcohol related pictures but the breath counting group decreased their choices of alcohol related pictures over time while the control group did not.

 

This is an interesting laboratory study. But it should be kept in mind that the findings may or may not apply to real-world alcohol seeking. But the findings suggest that a very brief session of breath counting increases happiness and decreases feelings of annoyance and makes the participants more resistant to stress reducing happiness and increasing annoyance and allows the participants to recover faster from stress effects on alcohol choices.

 

These results suggest that brief breath counting meditation improves mood and makes the participants recover faster from choosing alcohol-related following stress. These results may suggest how meditation improves drinkers’ ability to better control their intake. It does so by improving mood and decreasing the effect of stress on mood and alcohol intake.

 

So, reduce alcohol-related choices to alleviate stress with brief meditation.

 

There are many practices and applications of meditation to stop drinking. Meditation teaches us that we don’t have to react to dispiriting thoughts and cravings. We learn that we have choices, and can choose to remain in the present moment while acknowledging the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that habitually trigger maladjusted behavior. We learn that letting go and self-acceptance are possible, and that they are enough.” – Mindworks

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Shuai, R., Bakou, A. E., Hardy, L., & Hogarth, L. (2020). Ultra-brief breath counting (mindfulness) training promotes recovery from stress-induced alcohol-seeking in student drinkers. Addictive behaviors, 102, 106141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106141

 

Abstract

The therapeutic effect of mindfulness interventions on problematic drinking is thought to be driven by increased resilience to the impact of stress on negative mood and alcohol-seeking behaviour, but this claim needs empirical support. To address this hypothesis, the current study tested whether brief training of one component of mindfulness – breath counting – would reduce drinkers’ sensitivity to the effect of noise stress on subjective mood and alcohol-seeking behaviour. Baseline alcohol-seeking was measured by choice to view alcohol versus food thumbnail pictures in 192 student drinkers. Participants then received a 6-minute audio file which either trained breath counting or recited a popular science extract, in separate groups. All participants were then stressed by a loud industrial noise and alcohol-seeking was measured again simultaneously to quantify the change from baseline. Subjective mood was measured after all three stages (baseline, post intervention, post stress test). The breath counting group were instructed to deploy this technique during the stress test. Results showed that the breath counting versus control intervention improved subjective mood relative to baseline, attenuated the worsening of subjective mood produced by stress induction, and accelerated recovery from a stress induced increase in alcohol-seeking behaviour. Exploratory moderation analysis showed that this accelerated recovery from stress induced alcohol-seeking by breath counting was weaker in more alcohol dependent participants. Mindfulness therapies may improve problematic drinking by increasing resilience to stress induced negative mood and alcohol-seeking, as observed in this study. The weaker therapeutic effect of breath counting in more dependent drinkers may reveal limitations to this intervention strategy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6959458/

 

Moderate the Negative Psychological Effects of Racism with Mindfulness

Moderate the Negative Psychological Effects of Racism with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness and related practices do assist in increasing focus and raising awareness, and have been shown to assist in minimizing bias.” – Rhonda Magee

 

Discrimination based upon race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, etc. has been going on since the beginning of recorded history. Even though quite common, it can have considerable negative impact for all who are involved but especially for the subject of the discrimination. General well-being, self-esteem, self-worth, and social relations can be severely impacted as a result of discrimination. This can, in turn, result in anxiety and depression.

 

It is important that we identify methods to deal with the consequences of discrimination. Mindfulness practices have been shown to reduce prejudice. It has also been shown to reduce depression and enhance positive emotions and reduce the negative effects of discrimination. So perhaps mindfulness can modulate the impact of discrimination on the individual.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Experience of Racism on Behavioral Health Outcomes: The Moderating Impact of Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6402779/?report=classic), Zapolski and colleagues recruited African American college students aged 18 to 24 years. They completed an on-line questionnaire measuring demographics, frequency of experiencing racial discrimination, anxiety, depression, alcohol use, and mindfulness.

 

They found that 57% of the African American students had experienced racial discrimination over the last year. A correlational analysis revealed that the greater the frequency of racial discrimination reported, the greater the levels of anxiety, depression, and alcohol use. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, and alcohol use. A mediation analysis of these data revealed that mindfulness moderated the effects of racial discrimination on anxiety, depression, and alcohol use such that the higher the levels of mindfulness the smaller the impact of racial discrimination on anxiety, depression, and alcohol use.

 

The study was correlational and as such causation cannot be concluded. Nevertheless, the results suggest that racial discrimination is associated with the individuals’ levels of psychological health and alcohol use but that these associations are weaker when mindfulness levels are high. This suggests that mindfulness may be helpful in mitigating the negative consequences of experience racism. It remains to be established if mindfulness training can immunize the individual from the impact of racism on their psychological health.

 

So, moderate the negative psychological effects of racism with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness can help us with a lot of the really subtle difficulties of doing the work that must be done to dismantle these patterns and habits that draw us to reinvest in segregation.” – Rhonda Magee

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zapolski, T., Faidley, M. T., & Beutlich, M. (2019). The Experience of Racism on Behavioral Health Outcomes: The Moderating Impact of Mindfulness. Mindfulness, 10(1), 168–178. doi:10.1007/s12671-018-0963-7

 

Abstract

Research shows that racial discrimination results in adverse behavioral health outcomes for African American young adults, including risk for depression, anxiety, and substance use. Although high levels of mindfulness have been shown to reduce risk for such health outcomes, it is unknown whether mindfulness can reduce risk as a consequence of racial discrimination, particularly among African Americans. Three-hundred and eighty-eight African American young adults between the ages of 18–24 (M=20.6, 62% female) completed measures assessing past year experiences of racial discrimination, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, alcohol use, and trait mindfulness. A positive correlation was found between racial discrimination and the behavioral health outcomes, as well as a negative correlation between mindfulness and the behavioral health outcomes. Moreover, mindfulness was found to significantly moderate the effect of racial discrimination on mood symptoms. Although mindfulness was found to lessen the effect of racial discrimination on alcohol use, this difference was not statistically significant. In line with previous literature, racial discrimination was shown to have a negative impact on behavioral health outcomes among African Americans. Moreover, our findings provide support for the buffering effect of mindfulness on mood symptoms as a consequence discrimination. This suggests that increasing mindfulness may be an effective strategy to include in interventions targeting improvement in mood symptoms for African American young adults. However, alternative strategies may be more appropriate to address outcomes, such as alcohol use, as a consequence of racial discrimination.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6402779/?report=classic

 

Spirituality Interferes with Successful Treatment of Cannabis Abuse in Adolescents

Spirituality Interferes with Successful Treatment of Cannabis Abuse in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“there are three main reasons that cannabis is seen as a spiritual tool. First, “It is a light intoxicant and can therefore be used fairly frequently and without the kinds of impairment associated with major hallucinogens.” Second, cannabis is conducive to group social use and fosters conversation about philosophical and theological matters. Finally, cannabis weakens our ability for sustained attention. . . . it’s great for aiding in shifts of perspective and giving experiences a more pluralistic character.” – Robert Fuller

 

Drug and alcohol addictions are very difficult to kick and if successful about half the time the individual will relapse. So, there have been developed a number of programs to help the addict recover and prevent relapse. The 12 step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, etc. have been as successful as any programs in treating addictions. These programs insist that spirituality is essential to recovery.

 

Marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases. Recent data suggest that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.” National Institute of Drug Abuse.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Spirituality has been shown to assist in addiction recovery. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality with the ability of adolescents to recover from cannabis abuse.

 

In today’s Research News article “”God put weed here for us to smoke”: A mixed-methods study of religion and spirituality among adolescents with cannabis use disorders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6430642/), Yeterian and colleagues recruited adolescents, aged 14 to 21 years, who were undergoing a 12-step program for the treatment of cannabis abuse. The adolescents were measured before treatment and at 3 and 6-month follow-ups for religiosity, spirituality, and substance abuse. They also underwent interviews about their substance use and the program.

 

They found at follow-up that the higher the levels of spirituality the greater the increase in the use of cannabis by the adolescents, while the higher the levels of spirituality at baseline, the lower the levels of alcohol consumption. The results of the interviews suggested that the relationship of spirituality with increased cannabis use was due to the adolescents believing that cannabis deepened the sense of their spirituality.

 

Twelve-step programs emphasize spirituality and the current results suggest that this may be useful in treating alcohol abuse. But it may be counterproductive in treating cannabis abuse, contributing to greater use. The adolescents appear to see cannabis use as enhancing their spirituality and thus spiritual youths are susceptible to continued and increased cannabis use. This suggests that treatment programs for cannabis abuse should not include spirituality as part of the treatment.

 

So, spirituality interferes with successful treatment of cannabis abuse in adolescents.

 

“It is important for clinicians to be aware of the dynamics of spirituality and religion in the cause, maintenance, and treatment of substance misuse problems.” – John Allen

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Yeterian, J. D., Bursik, K., & Kelly, J. F. (2018). “God put weed here for us to smoke”: A mixed-methods study of religion and spirituality among adolescents with cannabis use disorders. Substance abuse, 39(4), 484–492. doi:10.1080/08897077.2018.1449168

 

Abstract

Background:

A growing literature on adults with substance use disorders (SUD) suggests that religious and spiritual processes can support recovery, such that higher levels of religiosity and/or spirituality predict better substance use outcomes. However, studies of the role of religion and spirituality in adolescent SUD treatment response have produced mixed findings, and religiosity and spirituality have rarely been examined separately.

Methods:

The present study examined religiosity and spirituality as predictors of outcomes in an outpatient treatment adolescent sample (N = 101) in which cannabis was the predominant drug of choice. Qualitative data were used to contextualize the quantitative findings.

Results:

Results showed that higher levels of spirituality at post-treatment predicted increased cannabis use at 6-month follow-up (β = .237, p = .043), whereas higher levels of baseline spirituality predicted a lower likelihood of heavy drinking at post-treatment (OR = .316, p = .040). Religiosity did not predict substance use outcomes at later timepoints. When asked to describe the relation between their religious/spiritual views and their substance use, adolescents described believing that they had a choice about their substance use and were in control of it, feeling more spiritual when under the influence of cannabis, and being helped by substance use.

Conclusions:

Together, findings suggest that for adolescents with SUD, religion and spirituality may not counteract the use of cannabis, which may be explained by adolescents’ views of their substance use as being consistent with their spirituality and under their control.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6430642/

 

Spirituality Improves Health Behaviors Particularly When Coupled with Religion

Spirituality Improves Health Behaviors Particularly When Coupled with Religion

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Spirituality is a universal phenomenon and an inherent aspect of human nature that unfolds during adolescence as the individual searches for transcendence, meaning, and purpose in life.” – Sangwon Kim

 

We tend to think that illness is produced by physical causes, disease, injury, viruses, bacteria, etc. But many health problems are behavioral problems or have their origins in maladaptive behavior. This is evident in car accident injuries that are frequently due to behaviors, such as texting while driving, driving too fast or aggressively, or driving drunk. Other problematic behaviors are cigarette smoking, alcoholism, drug use, or unprotected sex. It is well established that if patterns and habits of healthy behaviors can be established early in life, long-term health can be promoted and ill health can be prevented. Adolescence is a time when these behavioral causes of health problems usually develop.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental healthReligiosity is also known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the influence of spirituality and religiosity on the ability of adolescents to develop positive health behaviors.

 

In today’s Research News article “”I am spiritual, but not religious”: Does one without the other protect against adolescent health-risk behaviour?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6353810/), Malinakova and colleagues obtained data from a Czechoslovakian survey of a representative sample of adolescents aged 11, 13, and 15 years. Among other measures the youths completed measures of religious attendance, spirituality, tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use, drug use experience, and sexual intercourse.

 

They found that either religious attendance or high spirituality was associated with a lower risk of smoking while only high spirituality was associated with lower alcohol use and only religious attendance appeared to be associated with lower early sexual intercourse. But when the combination of religious attendance and high spirituality was looked at, there were large significantly lower levels of tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use and lifetime drug use.

 

These results are interesting but correlational. So, caution must be exercised in making conclusions about causality. They suggest, though, that individually religious attendance and spirituality only have limited associations with lower levels of health risk behaviors in adolescents. But in combination they have a strong association with lower levels of these behaviors. This suggests that just attending religious services doesn’t impact health risk behaviors unless it is combined with spirituality. It would appear that when youths are religious and also spiritual, they are much less likely to engage in behaviors that may damage their health.

 

So, spirituality improves health behaviors particularly when coupled with religion.

 

The results also showed a consistent relationship between high levels of spiritual health and positive overall self-rated health. Overall, while the perceived importance of spiritual health declined by age, for adolescents who maintain a strong sense of the importance of self-perceived spiritual health, the possible benefits are striking.” – HBSC News

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Malinakova, K., Kopcakova, J., Madarasova Geckova, A., van Dijk, J. P., Furstova, J., Kalman, M., … Reijneveld, S. A. (2019). “I am spiritual, but not religious”: Does one without the other protect against adolescent health-risk behaviour?. International journal of public health, 64(1), 115–124. doi:10.1007/s00038-018-1116-4

 

Abstract

Objectives

Spirituality and religious attendance (RA) have been suggested to protect against adolescent health-risk behaviour (HRB). The aim of this study was to explore the interrelatedness of these two concepts in a secular environment.

Methods

A nationally representative sample (n = 4566, 14.4 ± 1.1 years, 48.8% boys) of adolescents participated in the 2014 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children cross-sectional study. RA, spirituality (modified version of the Spiritual Well-Being Scale), tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and drug use and the prevalence of sexual intercourse were measured.

Results

RA and spirituality were associated with a lower chance of weekly smoking, with odds ratios (OR) 0.57 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.36–0.88] for RA and 0.88 (0.80–0.97) for spirituality. Higher spirituality was also associated with a lower risk of weekly drinking [OR (95% CI) 0.91 (0.83–0.995)]. The multiplicative interaction of RA and spirituality was associated with less risky behaviour for four of five explored HRB. RA was not a significant mediator for the association of spirituality with HRB.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that high spirituality only protects adolescents from HRB if combined with RA.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6353810/

 

Improve Students Transition to College with Mindfulness

Improve Students Transition to College with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The first semester of college is a time of great transition for many students — they often are living away from home for the first time, have a much more fluid schedule than in high school and are potentially surrounded by a new peer group. For all of these reasons and more, this can be an incredibly stressful time in a student’s life.”Victoria M. Indivero

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can be admitted to the best universities and there is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. As a result, colleges, parents, and students are constantly looking for ways to improve student performance in school.

 

The primary tactic has been to pressure the student and clear away routine tasks and chores so that the student can focus on their studies. But, this might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede performance. These stressors are at their peak when new students transition to college. Mindfulness training for incoming students may be an answer as mindfulness have been shown to be helpful in reducing the physiological and psychological responses to stress and to improve coping with the school environment and enhance performance. So, perhaps, mindfulness training may help ease students’ transition to college.

 

In today’s Research News article “Promoting healthy transition to college through mindfulness training with first-year college students: Pilot randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5810370/ ), Dvořáková and colleagues recruited first year college students who resided on campus and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to a 6-week mindfulness training condition with 2 80-minute sessions for the first two weeks and 1 session per week for the remaining 4 weeks. The training occurred in a group format during their first semester on campus and included instruction on emotion regulation, mindfulness techniques, and daily home practice. The students were measured before and after training for mindfulness, anxiety, depression, satisfaction with life, compassion, self-compassion, social connectedness, sleep, alcohol use and consequences, and program acceptability.

 

They found that the students who attended the mindfulness trainings had significantly lower levels of anxiety depression, alcohol-related consequences, and sleep issues and higher levels of life satisfaction in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control students. Hence, the mindfulness program improved the psychological health of the new college students, thereby easing their transition to the university environment. This is a pilot study, so results need to be interpreted with caution. But, the results are sufficiently interesting and potentially important that a large scale controlled clinical trial with an active control group is warranted.

 

The Freshman year in college is critical. Most of the students who fail to complete a college degree drop out in the first year. So, it is particularly important to find ways to help Freshman transition to university life and be successful. The present study suggests that mindfulness training may be an effective component in a university’s programs for Freshman to help promote their psychological health and academic performance in their critical first year.

 

So, improve students transition to college with mindfulness.

 

“Rather than telling the students what to do, we had them explore and talk about how to be mindful in their daily lives and discover the benefits for themselves. We found that underneath the stress that students are experiencing is a deep desire to appreciate life and feel meaningful connections with other people.” – Kamila Dvorakova

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dvořáková, K., Kishida, M., Li, J., Elavsky, S., Broderick, P. C., Agrusti, M. R., & Greenberg, M. T. (2017). Promoting healthy transition to college through mindfulness training with first-year college students: Pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of American College Health : J of ACH, 65(4), 259–267. http://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2017.1278605

 

Abstract

Objective

Given the importance of developmental transitions on young adults’ lives and the high rates of mental health issues among U.S. college students, first-year college students can be particularly vulnerable to stress and adversity. This pilot study evaluated the effectiveness and feasibility of mindfulness training aiming to promote first-year college students’ health and wellbeing.

Participants

109 freshmen were recruited from residential halls (50% Caucasian, 66% female). Data collection was completed in November 2014.

Methods

A randomized control trial was conducted utilizing the Learning to BREATHE (L2B) program, a universal mindfulness program adapted to match the developmental tasks of college transition.

Results

Participation in the pilot intervention was associated with significant increase in students’ life satisfaction, and significant decrease in depression and anxiety. Marginally significant decrease was found for sleep issues and alcohol consequences.

Conclusions

Mindfulness-based programs may be an effective strategy to enhance a healthy transition into college.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5810370/

 

Reduce Substance Abuse with Yoga

Reduce Substance Abuse with Yoga

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When people take substances, they’re seeking a certain experience, whether it’s escapist or transcendental or just wanting a different psychological state, to get away from whatever is making them unhappy. Yoga is an alternative, a positive way to generate a change in consciousness that, instead of providing an escape, empowers people with the ability to access a peaceful, restorative inner state that integrates mind, body, and spirit.” – Sat Bir Khalsa

 

Substance abuse is a major health and social problem. There are estimated 22.2 million people in the U.S. with substance dependence. It is estimated that worldwide there are nearly ¼ million deaths yearly as a result of illicit drug use which includes unintentional overdoses, suicides, HIV and AIDS, and trauma. In the U.S. about 17 million people abuse alcohol. Drunk driving fatalities accounted for over 10,000 deaths annually. “Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 of these deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition, smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion a year. In 2013, an estimated 17.8% (42.1 million) U.S. adults were current cigarette smokers.”  (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

 

Obviously, there is a need to find effective methods to prevent and treat substance abuse. There are a number of programs that are successful at stopping the drug abuse, including the classic 12-step program emblematic of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunately, the majority of drug and/or alcohol abusers relapse and return to substance abuse. Hence, it is important to find an effective method to both treat substance abuse disorders and to prevent relapses. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve recovery from various addictions. Yoga is a mindfulness practice that has documented benefits for the individual’s psychological and physical health and well-being. There has been a paucity of studies, however, on the use of yoga practice to treat substance abuse.

 

In today’s Research News article “Role of Yoga in Management of Substance-use Disorders: A Narrative Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5812135/ ), Kuppili and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the application of yoga practice for the treatment of substance abuse. They found 16 studies, 12 of which were randomized controlled trials.

 

There were 9 studies of yoga practice as a treatment for nicotine (smoking) addiction. These studies reported that yoga practice increased the desire to quit smoking, reduced cravings for cigarettes, and assisted in quitting. There were, however, mixed findings on the duration of these effects. There were 3 studies of yoga practice as a treatment for alcohol use disorders. These studies reported that yoga practice was helpful in reducing alcohol intake and depression. There were 3 studies of yoga practice as a treatment for opioid use disorders. These studies reported that yoga practice for patients undergoing treatment improved mood states and quality of life. There was only 1 study of yoga practice as a treatment for cocaine use disorder and reported improvements in perceived stress and quality of life.

 

The studies reviewed suggest that yoga practice may be of use in the treatment of substance use disorders particularly in improving the psychological state of patients under treatment and perhaps reducing cravings. There is obviously, though, a need for more studies with larger samples and with long-term follow-up. Yoga practice does not appear to a magical cure for substance abuse but may be helpful to the patient in kicking the habit. Clearly yoga practice has substantial psychological and physical benefits for practitioners and these in combination with its helpfulness for the treatment of substance abuse make it a reasonable choice for improving he well-being of patients with these disorders.

 

“Yoga is a complementary, or adjunct, health practice that is often considered a natural form of medicine. Adjunct means “in addition to,” and not “in place of.” Yoga is often beneficial when used in tandem with other traditional substance abuse treatment methods.” – American Addiction Centers

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Pooja Patnaik Kuppili, Arpit Parmar, Ankit Gupta, Yatan Pal Singh Balhara. Role of Yoga in Management of Substance-use Disorders: A Narrative Review. J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2018 Jan-Mar; 9(1): 117–122. doi: 10.4103/jnrp.jnrp_243_17

 

Abstract

Substance use disorders are comparable to chronic medical illnesses and have a chronic relapsing course. Despite being significant contributors to morbidity and mortality, limited treatment options exist. The current narrative review was aimed at providing an overview of yoga therapy in substance-use disorders and discuss the relevant methodological issues. Articles published in English language till May 2017 indexed with PubMed, PubMed central, and Google Scholar were searched using search terms “Yoga,” “Substance use,” “Drug dependence,” “Nicotine,” “Tobacco,” “Alcohol,” “Opioids,” “Cannabis,” “Cocaine,” “Stimulants,” “Sedative hypnotics,” “Inhalants,” and “Hallucinogens” for inclusion in the review. A total of 314 studies were found fulfilling the stated criteria. Out of which, 16 studies were found to fulfill the inclusion and exclusion criteria and 12 were randomized control trials. The majority of studies were available on the role of yoga in management of nicotine dependence. Sample size of these studies ranged from 18 to 624. The majority of studies suggested the role of yoga in reducing substance use as well as substance-related craving (especially in nicotine-use disorders) in short term. However, more studies are required for demonstrating the long-term effects of yoga therapy in substance-use disorder.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5812135/

 

Reduce Social Anxiety and Drinking with Mindfulness

Reduce Social Anxiety and Drinking with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When you practice sitting in curious awareness, without forcing it, mindfulness becomes easier and easier. You become an observer, rather than a participant in the damaging thoughts that run through your head. As you become more aware, you are less prone to engage in mindless harmful behaviors, like drinking, and more apt to act with intention and self-love and acceptance.” – Keri Wiginton

 

Inappropriate use of alcohol is a major societal problem. In fact, about 25% of US adults have engaged in binge drinking in the last month and 7% have what is termed an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse is very dangerous and frequently fatal. Nearly 88,000 people in the US and 3.3 million globally die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Drunk driving accounted for over 10,000 deaths; 31% of all driving fatalities. Excessive alcohol intake has been shown to contribute to over 200 diseases including alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries. It is estimated that over 5% of the burden of disease and injury worldwide is attributable to alcohol consumption. These are striking and alarming statistics and indicate that controlling alcohol intake is an important priority for the individual and society

 

Alcohol intake is often promoted by its perceived ability to improve social behavior and reduce social anxiety. It is a common human phenomenon that being in a social situation can be stressful and anxiety producing. Social anxiety is widespread, and reaches clinically significant levels in about 7% of the U.S. population. It has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders including Social Anxiety Disorder. In addition, mindfulness training has been successfully applied to treating alcohol abuse. It appears to increase the ability of the drinker to control alcohol intake. Since, mindfulness appears to hold promise as a treatment for excessive alcohol intake and social anxiety, there is a need to examine the relationships between social anxiety, alcohol abuse, and mindfulness in people with alcohol abuse problems and who suffer with social anxiety.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Facets, Social Anxiety, and Drinking to Cope with Social Anxiety: Testing Mediators of Drinking Problems.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5381930/ ), Clerkin and colleagues recruited adults with alcohol dependence and high social anxiety. They had them complete measures of mindfulness, symptoms of alcohol dependence, alcohol consumption, drinking problems, social anxiety, drinking to cope with social anxiety, depression, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These measures were subjected to a path analysis to identify the interconnections between them.

 

They found that the greater the levels of social anxiety symptoms the higher the levels of drinking to cope with social anxiety and, in turn, the higher the levels of drinking problems. Further they found that found that the greater the levels of the mindfulness and the facets of mindfulness of acting with awareness, accepting without judgment, and describing the lower the levels of social anxiety symptoms and thereby the lower the levels of drinking to cope with this anxiety and, in turn, the lower the levels of drinking problems.

 

Hence, as has been previously observed, social anxiety tends to promote drinking problems by driving a coping strategy of using alcohol intake to deal with the anxiety. But, significantly, mindfulness is associated with reduced levels of social anxiety which is associated with lower drinking problems. In particular, the more the individual could describe how they are feeling, accept it without judgement, and be aware of their actions in the present moment, the less they felt anxiety in social situations. This, through reducing coping mechanisms, was associated with fewer drinking problems.

 

This study was correlative and causation cannot be concluded within the study itself. But, in other studies, increasing mindfulness was found to reduce anxiety, including social anxiety  and to assist in controlling alcohol consumption. So, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the relationships observed in the present study were due to causal connections such that high mindfulness lowers social anxiety which lowers coping with anxiety by drinking.

 

So, reduce social anxiety and drinking with mindfulness.

 

“We live in an alcohol-addicted culture. Alcohol is used as a social lubricant, and has become such a crutch for most people to feel comfortable socially that they would feel lost without it.” – Sheryl Paul

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Clerkin, E. M., Sarfan, L. D., Parsons, E. M., & Magee, J. C. (2017). Mindfulness Facets, Social Anxiety, and Drinking to Cope with Social Anxiety: Testing Mediators of Drinking Problems. Mindfulness, 8(1), 159–170. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0589-6

 

Abstract

This cross-sectional study tested social anxiety symptoms, trait mindfulness, and drinking to cope with social anxiety as potential predictors and/or serial mediators of drinking problems. A community-based sample of individuals with co-occurring social anxiety symptoms and alcohol dependence were recruited. Participants (N = 105) completed measures of social anxiety, drinking to cope with social anxiety, and alcohol use and problems. As well, participants completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, which assesses mindfulness facets of accepting without judgment, acting with awareness, not reacting to one’s internal experiences, observing and attending to experiences, and labeling and describing. As predicted, the relationship between social anxiety symptoms and drinking problems was mediated by social anxiety coping motives across each of the models. Further, the relationship between specific mindfulness facets (acting with awareness, accepting without judgment, and describe) and drinking problems was serially mediated by social anxiety symptoms and drinking to cope with social anxiety. This research builds upon existing studies that have largely been conducted with college students to evaluate potential mediators driving drinking problems. Specifically, individuals who are less able to act with awareness, accept without judgment, and describe their internal experiences may experience heightened social anxiety and drinking to cope with that anxiety, which could ultimately result in greater alcohol-related problems.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5381930/

 

Reduce the Alcohol Consumption of At-Risk Individuals with Mindfulness

Reduce the Alcohol Consumption of At-Risk Individuals with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Its latest experiment has not only proven the usefulness of mindfulness in this area, but shown that just 11 minutes of the therapy can reduce alcohol consumption in heavy drinkers.” – Liat Clark

 

Inappropriate use of alcohol is a major societal problem. In fact, about 25% of US adults have engaged in binge drinking in the last month and 7% have what is termed an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse is very dangerous and frequently fatal. Nearly 88,000 people in the US and 3.3 million globally die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Drunk driving accounted for over 10,000 deaths; 31% of all driving fatalities. Excessive alcohol intake has been shown to contribute to over 200 diseases including alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries. It is estimated that over 5% of the burden of disease and injury worldwide is attributable to alcohol consumption. These are striking and alarming statistics and indicate that controlling alcohol intake is an important priority for the individual and society.

 

There are a wide range of treatment programs for alcohol abuse, with varying success. Recently, mindfulness training has been successfully applied to treatment. One attractive feature of this training is that it appears to increase the ability of the drinker to control their intake, resulting in less binge drinking and dangerous inebriation. Since, mindfulness appears to hold promise as a treatment for excessive alcohol intake, there is a need to examine the individual components of training needed in order to maximize effectiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Ultra-Brief Mindfulness Training Reduces Alcohol Consumption in At-Risk Drinkers: A Randomized Double-Blind Active-Controlled Experiment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5737497/ ), Kamboj and colleagues recruited adult heavy drinkers and randomly assigned them to receive either a brief relaxation or mindfulness instruction. They were measured before and after the relaxation or mindfulness instruction for blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability, breath holding duration, drinking during the prior week, drinking motives, alcohol cravings, anxiety, depression, emotional state, mindfulness, and relaxation. They were also measured for their emotional reactivity to a sip of water or a sip of beer. The amounts of beer drunk during a “taste test” were also recorded. The participants then received a brief mindfulness instruction emphasizing observing their internal state or a relaxation instruction emphasizing muscle softening. They were instructed to practice once a day for seven days. After the practice week, they completed on-line measures of alcohol consumption and their emotional state.

 

They found that immediately following instruction, an indicator of parasympathetic nervous system activity (Heart Rate Variability) was increased in the relaxation instruction group but not the mindfulness group suggesting that the relaxation instruction produced a physiological relaxation. At the one-week follow-up they found that both groups had significant reductions in alcohol cravings, but, importantly, only the mindfulness instructed group had significant reductions in alcohol consumption over the week.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that a very brief mindfulness instruction targeting observing internal sensations can produce reductions in alcohol consumption over a week’s period. It will be important to establish, in the future, if the reductions can be sustained over a longer period of time. But, nevertheless, the results suggest that paying attention to the individual’s internal state can lead to less drinking. This may be identifying the component of mindfulness training that is most important for mindfulness effects on alcohol consumption, observing internal sensations. This conclusion, in turn, may suggest how to optimize mindfulness based alcoholism treatment programs.

 

So, reduce the alcohol consumption of at-risk individuals with mindfulness.

 

“By being more aware of their cravings, we think the study participants were able to bring intention back into the equation, instead of automatically reaching for the drink when they feel a craving.” – Sunjeev Kamboj

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Sunjeev K Kamboj, Damla Irez, Shirley Serfaty, Emily Thomas, Ravi K Das, Tom P Freeman. Ultra-Brief Mindfulness Training Reduces Alcohol Consumption in At-Risk Drinkers: A Randomized Double-Blind Active-Controlled Experiment. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017 Nov; 20(11): 936–947. Published online 2017 Aug 2. doi: 10.1093/ijnp/pyx064

 

Abstract

Background

Like other complex psychosocial interventions, mindfulness-based treatments comprise various modality-specific components as well as nonspecific therapeutic ingredients that collectively contribute to efficacy. Consequently, the isolated effects of mindfulness strategies per se remain unclear.

Methods

Using a randomized double-blind design, we compared the isolated effects of 11-minutes of “supervised” mindfulness instruction against a closely matched active control (relaxation) on subjective, physiological, and behavioral indices of maladaptive alcohol responding in drinkers at risk of harm from alcohol use (n = 68). Simple follow-up instructions on strategy use were provided, but practice was unsupervised and not formally monitored.

Results

Both groups showed acute reductions in craving after training, although a trend group x time interaction (P= .056) suggested that this reduction was greater in the relaxation group (d = 0.722 P < .001) compared with the mindfulness group (d = 0.317, P = .004). Furthermore, upregulation of parasympathetic activity was found after relaxation (d = 0.562; P < .001) but not mindfulness instructions (d = 0.08; P > .1; group x time interaction: P = .009). By contrast, only the mindfulness group showed a reduction in past-week alcohol consumption at 7-day follow-up (-9.31 units, d = 0.593, P < .001), whereas no significant reduction was seen in the relaxation group (-3.00 units, d = 0.268, P > .1; group x time interaction: P = .026).

Conclusion

Very brief mindfulness practice can significantly reduce alcohol consumption among at-risk drinkers, even with minimal encouragement to use this strategy outside of the experimental context. The effects on consumption may therefore represent a lower bound of efficacy of “ultra-brief” mindfulness instructions in hazardous drinkers, at least at short follow-up intervals.

Significance Statement

We examine the isolated effects of simple mindfulness instructions in people at risk of harm from alcohol consumption (“at-risk drinkers”). A single brief session of mindfulness resulted in significant reductions in alcohol consumption compared with a carefully matched relaxation control condition at 1-week follow-up. These findings suggest that even “ultra-brief” experience with mindfulness can have measurable and potentially clinically meaningful effects in at-risk drinkers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5737497/

Brief Mindfulness Training may Increase Drinking Impulsivity to Negative Emotions

Brief Mindfulness Training may Increase Drinking Impulsivity to Negative Emotions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“it’s helping people become really aware of what’s happening in their minds. Once they see that, they have a choice and they have some freedom.” – Sarah Bowen

 

Inappropriate use of alcohol is a major societal problem. In fact, about 25% of US adults have engaged in binge drinking in the last month and 7% have what is termed an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse is very dangerous and frequently fatal. Nearly 88,000 people in the US and 3.3 million globally die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Drunk driving accounted for over 10,000 deaths; 31% of all driving fatalities. Excessive alcohol intake has been shown to contribute to over 200 diseases including alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries. It is estimated that over 5% of the burden of disease and injury worldwide is attributable to alcohol consumption.

 

Alcohol abuse often develops during adolescence and it on display with college students where about four out of five college students drink alcohol and about half of those consume alcohol through binge drinking. About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall. More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem. These are striking and alarming statistics and indicate that controlling alcohol intake is an important priority for the individual and society.

 

There are a wide range of treatment programs for alcohol abuse, with varying success. Recently, mindfulness training has been successfully applied to treatment. One attractive feature of this training is that it appears to increase the ability of the drinker to control their intake, resulting in less binge drinking and dangerous inebriation. Since, mindfulness appears to hold promise as a treatment for excessive alcohol intake, there is a need to better understand its mechanisms of action in order to maximize its effectiveness. In today’s Research News article “Examination of trait impulsivity on the response to a brief mindfulness intervention among college student drinkers.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975969/, Vinci and colleagues examined how mindfulness training might alter impulsivity related drinking urges.

 

They administered the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test to college students and identified a group of at-risk drinkers. They were then randomly assigned to receive either a 10-minute guided mindfulness meditation, muscle relaxation instruction, or engaged for 10-minutes in a word search puzzle. Before and after the interventions the at-risk students were administered measures of the mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, urge to drink, drinking motives of Enhancement, Coping, Social Affiliative, and Social Conformity and of impulsivity including Negative Urgency, (lack of) Premeditation, (lack of) Perseverance, Sensation Seeking, and Positive Urgency.

 

They found that mindfulness was increased by the brief mindfulness training. They also found that mindfulness and relaxation modulated the effects of drinking motives on the urge to drink. For participants in the mindfulness group, having low Negative Urgency was associated with a low urge to drink, while participants with high Negative Urgency reported a high urge to drink. The opposite pattern was observed for participants in the relaxation group, such that for those with low Negative Urgency, urge to drink was high; for those with high Negative Urgency, the urge to drink was low.

 

Negative Urgency is the likelihood of acting impulsively when experiencing negative emotions. A brief Mindfulness experience appears to have an immediate effect of heightening the ability of acting impulsively to negative emotions to affect the urge to drink. It may, by focusing the individual on the present moment, make the individual more aware of their own emptions and therefore they become more responsive to them. A brief relaxation, on the other hand tends to lower the ability of acting impulsively to negative emotions to affect the urge to drink. Perhaps relaxation make the students less aware of their own emotions.

 

These results suggest that a brief mindfulness training of students who are at-risk for alcohol abuse may be counterproductive, sensitizing them to feeling emotionally bad and thereby making drinking more likely. Since, it has been well established that mindfulness training decreases drinking and drinking motives, the results suggest that care must be taken to insure that sufficient training occurs to produce benefits as opposed to sensitizing impulsive responses to negative emotions.

 

So, care must be taken t administer and adequate dose of mindfulness training when treating at-risk college students.

 

“mindfulness . . . just 11 minutes of the therapy can reduce alcohol consumption in heavy drinkers.” – Liat Clark

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Vinci, C., Peltier, M., Waldo, K., Kinsaul, J., Shah, S., Coffey, S. F., & Copeland, A. L. (2016). Examination of trait impulsivity on the response to a brief mindfulness intervention among college student drinkers. Psychiatry Research, 242, 365–374. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2016.04.115

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based strategies show promise for targeting the construct of impulsivity and associated variables among problematic alcohol users. This study examined the moderating role of intervention (mindfulness vs relaxation vs control) on trait impulsivity and three outcomes examined post-intervention (negative affect, positive affect, and urge to drink) among 207 college students with levels of at-risk drinking. Moderation analyses revealed that the relationship between baseline impulsivity and the primary outcomes significantly differed for participants who underwent the mindfulness versus relaxation interventions. Notably, simple slope analyses revealed that negative urgency was positively associated with urge to drink following the mindfulness intervention. Among participants who underwent the relaxation intervention, analysis of simple slopes revealed that negative urgency was negatively associated with urge to drink, while positive urgency was positively associated with positive affect following the relaxation intervention. Findings suggest that level (low vs high) and subscale of impulsivity matter with regard to how a participant will respond to a mindfulness versus relaxation intervention.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975969/

Reduce Drinking Motives and Problematic Drinking with Mindfulness

Reduce Drinking Motives and Problematic Drinking with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It may not be possible for people to completely escape cravings, but they can learn to live with them. Mindfulness meditation is an excellent tool that allows the individual to have increased control over their mind. There is a saying that, the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.” – Alcoholrehab.com

 

Inappropriate use of alcohol is a major societal problem. In fact, about 25% of US adults have engaged in binge drinking in the last month and 7% have what is termed an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse is very dangerous and frequently fatal. Nearly 88,000 people in the US and 3.3 million globally die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Drunk driving accounted for over 10,000 deaths; 31% of all driving fatalities. Excessive alcohol intake has been shown to contribute to over 200 diseases including alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries. It is estimated that over 5% of the burden of disease and injury worldwide is attributable to alcohol consumption.

 

Alcohol abuse often develops during adolescence and it on display with college students where about four out of five college students drink alcohol and about half of those consume alcohol through binge drinking. About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall. More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem. This drinking has widespread consequence for not only the students but also the college communities, and families. More than 690,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. More than 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. 599,000 students receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol. Significantly, 1,825 college students die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.

 

These are striking and alarming statistics and indicate that controlling alcohol intake is an important priority for the individual and society. There are a wide range of treatment programs for alcohol abuse, with varying success. Recently, mindfulness training has been successfully applied to treatment. One attractive feature of this training is that it appears to increase the ability of the drinker to control their intake, resulting in less binge drinking and dangerous inebriation. It appears that one way that mindfulness increases the control of intake is by reducing the desire to use alcohol to cope with emotional problems. Since, mindfulness appears to hold promise as a treatment for excessive alcohol intake, there is a need to better understand its mechanisms of action in order to maximize its effectiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Drinking Motives Mediate the Relationship between Facets of Mindfulness and Problematic Alcohol Use.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4998974/. Vinci and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete measures of problem drinking, drinking characteristics, including frequency, quantity, and binge drinking, drinking motives including coping, enhancement, social, and conformity, and mindfulness. They performed regression and structural modelling analyses on these data.

 

They found that the higher the level of the mindfulness facet of acting with awareness that the students had the lower the levels of problem drinking. In addition, the association of acting with awareness with lower problem drinking occurred through two routes, a direct effect of acting with awareness on problem drinking and indirect effects through lower levels of using drinking for coping with negative emotions and lower levels of drinking to conform to the social situation. Hence, mindfulness is directly associated with less problem drinking and with lower levels of susceptibility to use drinking to sooth negative feelings and to conform to the behaviors of others.

 

Since, problem drinking is such a major societal and individual problem that develops during adolescence, the fact that mindfulness may help to lower problem drinking in college students suggests that mindfulness training may be an important intervention during these formative years. It remains for future research to determine if  active mindfulness training in college students can lead to decreased problem drinking.

 

So, reduce drinking motives and problematic drinking with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness also helps people learn to relate to discomfort differently. When an uncomfortable feeling like a craving or anxiety arises, people are able to recognize their discomfort, and observe it with presence and compassion, instead of automatically reaching for a drug to make it go away. Awareness of our experience and the ability to relate to our experience with compassion gives us more freedom to choose how we respond to discomfort, rather than defaulting to automatic behaviors.” – Sarah Bowen

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Vinci, C., Spears, C. A., Peltier, M. R., & Copeland, A. L. (2016). Drinking Motives Mediate the Relationship between Facets of Mindfulness and Problematic Alcohol Use. Mindfulness, 7(3), 754–763. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0515-y

 

Abstract

Mindfulness is a multi-faceted construct, and research suggests that certain components (e.g., Acting with Awareness, Nonjudging) are associated with less problematic alcohol use. Recent research has examined whether specific drinking motives mediate the relationship between facets of mindfulness and alcohol use. The current study sought to extend this research by examining whether certain drinking motives would mediate the relationship between facets of mindfulness and problematic alcohol use in a sample of 207 college students classified as engaging in problematic drinking. Participants completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), Drinking Motives Questionnaire-Revised (DMQ-R), and Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Results indicated that lower levels of Coping motives significantly mediated the relationship between greater Acting with Awareness and lower AUDIT score and between greater Nonjudging and lower AUDIT score. Lower levels of Conformity motives significantly mediated the relationship between greater Acting with Awareness and lower AUDIT score. These findings offer insight into specific mechanisms through which mindfulness is linked to less problematic drinking, and also highlight associations among mindfulness, drinking motives, and alcohol use among a sample of problematic college student drinkers. Future research should determine whether interventions that emphasize Acting with Awareness and Nonjudging facets of mindfulness and/or target coping and conformity motives could be effective for reducing problematic drinking in college students.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4998974/