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/

Decrease Alcohol Intake and Related Consequences in Teens with Mindfulness

Decrease Alcohol Intake and Related Consequences in Teens with Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“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.” – Sarah  Bowen

 

Alcohol abuse often develops during adolescence and especially at college. Four out of five college students drink alcohol and about half of those consume alcohol through binge drinking. About 25% 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% of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.

 

These facts are sobering and clearly highlight the need to explore methods to control excessive alcohol intake. Students often use protective behavioral strategies to increase self-control while drinking and help reduce negative alcohol-related consequences, these include adding extra ice to the drink, avoiding taking shots, or trying to out-drink companions. These strategies, when employed appear to be successful in helping to control drinking and its consequences. Another potential method to control alcohol intake and its consequences is mindfulness as it has been shown to assist in the control of alcohol intake and in recovery from alcohol addiction .

 

So, it would make sense to further explore the relationship of mindfulness and protective behavioral strategies on alcohol intake and its negative consequences in college students. In today’s Research News article “Trait mindfulness and protective strategies for alcohol use: Implications for college student drinking.” (See summary below), Brett and colleagues recruited male and female college students who we 18 years of age or older and reported recent alcohol use. The students completed on-line measurements for mindfulness, alcohol use, protective behavioral strategies, and alcohol related consequences.

 

The researchers found that higher levels of mindfulness were associated with higher levels of protective behavioral strategies which, in turn, were associated with lower levels of alcohol intake by the students. High levels of mindfulness were also associated with higher levels of protective behavioral strategies which, in turn, were associated with lower levels of alcohol related consequences, with a small but significant negative direct relationship of mindfulness on alcohol related consequences. They also found that the relationship between protective behavioral strategies and lower alcohol related consequences was greatest in students with low levels of mindfulness.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness is primarily associated with lower alcohol intake and lower alcohol related consequences indirectly by promoting protective behavioral strategies. So mindful students were more likely to engage in strategies such as adding extra ice to the drink, avoiding taking shots, or trying to out-drink companions and this, in turn, produced lower level of negative consequences produced by the alcohol intake.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. It remains for future research to manipulate mindfulness and determine if protective behavioral strategies are increased and negative alcohol related consequences and alcohol intake are reduced. Prior research, however, has shown that mindfulness training reduces alcohol consumption. This, taken together with the current results suggest that mindfulness may be responsible for eliciting engagement in protective strategies dampening alcohol intake and the negative consequences of excessive intake.

 

So, decrease alcohol intake and related consequences in teens with mindfulness.

 

“teaching teens about the brain and how mindfulness affects it can help create an understanding and desire to practice. Mindfulness also helps with impulse control, a concept with which many teenagers struggle.” – Courtney Howard

 

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

Brett EI, Leffingwell TR, Leavens EL. Trait mindfulness and protective strategies for alcohol use: Implications for college student drinking. Addict Behav. 2017 Apr 8;73:16-21. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.04.011

 

Highlights

  • The current study examined PBS and mindfulness as they relate to alcohol outcomes.
  • PBS mediated the relationship between mindfulness and alcohol outcomes.
  • Mindfulness moderated the relationship between PBS use and alcohol consequences.
  • Interventions targeting those low in mindfulness may be effective in reducing consequences.

Abstract

Introduction

The use of Protective Behavioral Strategies (PBS) has been strongly linked with decreased experience of alcohol-related consequences, making them a potential target for intervention. Additionally, mindfulness is associated with decreased experience of alcohol-related consequences. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate a model of PBS as a mediator of the effect of mindfulness on alcohol-related consequences. Additionally, mindfulness as a moderator of the relationship between PBS and alcohol use and consequences was examined.

Methods

College students (N = 239) at a large South Central university completed self-report measures of demographics, alcohol use and consequences, use of PBS, and trait mindfulness.

Results

Results indicated that both higher levels of mindfulness and using more PBS predicted decreased alcohol-related consequences and consumption, with PBS mediating both relationships (p < 0.01). Those with higher levels of mindfulness were more likely to use PBS, with individuals using more PBS experiencing fewer alcohol-related consequences and consuming fewer drinks per week. Mindfulness moderated the relationship between PBS and consequences, with a significantly stronger negative relationship for those with lower levels of mindfulness.

Conclusions

Individuals who are higher in trait mindfulness are more likely to use PBS, which leads to a decrease in the experience of alcohol-related consequences. Furthermore, for individuals lower in mindfulness, low PBS use may lead to increased experience of alcohol consequences. Interventions that incorporate PBS may be most beneficial for students who are low in mindfulness and unlikely to engage in drinking control strategies.

Interrupt Drinking to Cope with Depression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“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.” – 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. 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 facts clearly highlight the need to explore methods to control excessive alcohol intake. One potential method is mindfulness as it has been shown to assist in the control of alcohol intake and in recovery from alcohol addiction . So it would make sense to further explore the effects of mindfulness on alcohol intake in college students. Many indicate that they drink to cope with problems including depression. In today’s Research News article “Depressive Symptoms and Alcohol-Related Problems Among College Students: A Moderated-Mediated Model of Mindfulness and Drinking to Cope.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1388915171132405/?type=3&theater

or see summary below. Bravo and colleagues recruited college students who had consumed alcohol at least one day in the past month and had them complete a questionnaire measuring mindfulness, depression, alcohol consumption, alcohol related problems, and drinking motives.

 

They found that the higher the level of the students’ mindfulness, the lower the levels of depression, alcohol related problems, and drinking to cope motives while the higher the levels of depression the greater the drinking to cope motives and alcohol related problems. They also found that the students’ depression levels were associated this drinking to cope which was, in turn, associated with alcohol related problems and this was moderated by mindfulness with this relationship weaker in highly mindful students and stronger in low mindfulness students.

 

These findings suggest that depression energizes the motivation to find a way to cope with the depression and this, in turn, leads to using alcohol intake for coping problems. This then leads to more problems related to alcohol consumption. But, mindfulness appears to interrupt this process by reducing the motivation to cope, it decreases the number of problems resulting from alcohol consumption. It can be speculated that mindfulness helps with the depression reducing the need to find a way to cope with it. This then produces a healthier relationship with alcohol intake.

 

These are potentially important findings. That mindfulness reduces depression is well known. But, these results suggest that this reduces the need to use alcohol intake to cope with the student’s negative emotional state. They further suggest that mindfulness training for college students could help to address alcohol intake problems that are so rampant in that population. It will take future studies to assess this speculation.

 

So, interrupt drinking to cope with depression with mindfulness.

 

There are a few strategies for drinking mindfully. First, we meditated to set our intentions for drinking. While trying to remain in the present moment, we asked ourselves, “Am I drinking because I want to unwind…Or to drown my sorrows?” “Alcohol in itself is not good or bad. It’s our relationship to it that matters.” – Lodro Rinzler

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Bravo AJ, Pearson MR, Stevens LE, Henson JM. Depressive Symptoms and Alcohol-Related Problems Among College Students: A Moderated-Mediated Model of Mindfulness and Drinking to Cope. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2016 Jul;77(4):661-6. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15288/jsad.2016.77.661

 

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: In college student samples, the association between depressive symptoms and alcohol-related problems has been found to be mediated by drinking-to-cope motives. Mindfulness-based interventions suggest that mindfulness may attenuate the conditioned response of using substances in response to negative emotional states, and trait mindfulness has been shown to be a protective factor associated with experiencing fewer alcohol-related problems. In the present study, we examined trait mindfulness as a moderator of the indirect associations of depressive symptoms on alcohol-related problems via drinking-to-cope motives.

METHOD: Participants were undergraduate students at a large, southeastern university in the United States who drank at least once in the previous month (n = 448). Participants completed an online survey regarding their personal mental health, coping strategies, trait mindfulness, and alcohol use behaviors. The majority of participants were female (n = 302; 67.4%), identified as being either White non-Hispanic (n = 213; 47.5%) or African American (n = 119; 26.6%), and reported a mean age of 22.74 (SD = 6.81) years. Further, 110 (25%) participants reported having a previous and/or current experience with mindfulness mediation.

RESULTS: As hypothesized, the indirect effects from depressive symptoms to alcohol-related problems via drinking-to-cope motives were weaker among individuals reporting higher levels of mindfulness than among individuals reporting lower and average levels of mindfulness.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study suggests a possible mechanism through which mindfulness-based interventions may be efficacious among college students: decoupling the associations between depressive symptoms and drinking-to-cope motives.

Lower Aggression in Substance Abusers with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When we practice mindfulness we practice responding to our experience with a non-reactive, non-judgmental attitude. This helps us maintain autonomy over our behavior. We may not have control over whether a craving for a drug arises, but we can control how we respond to such a craving. The irony is that when we practice simply observing the craving; letting it arise and letting it pass away (rather than actively trying to push it away or avoid it), we are left with more of an ability to regulate ourselves.” – Center for Adolescent Studies

 

Drug and alcohol abuse are highly related to aggressive behavior. Alcohol abuse has been found in 50%-72% of convicted rapists, 50% of incestuous offenders, 40%-83% of wife abusers and perpetrators of family violence, 29% of individuals with a history of injurious violent acts, 48-56% of individuals with a history of violent acts at home, 36%-83% of imprisoned murderers, 61% of adolescents convicted of homicides, and 33% of convicted felons. Other drugs are less problematic except that the difficulties in supporting an expensive habit can lead to violence and aggression. Obviously, treatment for drug abuse and the consequent violence and aggression is important both for the individual and for society in general.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in drug abuse treatment. It has also been shown to lower aggression and to reduce maladaptive responses to emotions and anger. In addition, it has been shown to be inversely associated with aggression and violence in women entering treatment for substance abuse such that the higher the level of mindfulness the lower the levels of violence and aggression. But men are more violent and aggressive than women. In fact, approximately 75% of all violent crimes are committed by men. So, the relationship between mindfulness and aggression that is observed in women may be different in men.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relation Between Trait Mindfulness and Aggression in Men Seeking Residential Substance Use Treatment.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1269818923042031/?type=3&theater

or below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4363039/

Shorey and colleagues address the question of mindfulness’ relationship to aggression in men entering substance abuse treatment. They recruited adult males in residential substance abuse treatment facilities and measured mindfulness, aggression, and alcohol and drug use. They found, as expected, that the higher the levels of drug and alcohol abuse the higher the levels of aggression. They also found that the higher the level of mindfulness the lower the levels of overall aggression, aggressive attitude, verbal and physical aggression, and drug and alcohol use.

 

These are interesting and important findings that replicate for men the findings for women that mindfulness is related to lower drug and alcohol use and lower aggression. Since this study was correlative in nature, it cannot be concluded that high mindfulness caused lower drug us and aggression. It could be that lower drug use causes greater mindfulness or that aggressive people and not mindful people. It remains for future research to train substance abusers in mindfulness and measure for a decrease in aggression to determine if indeed mindfulness causes lower aggression in substance abusers. This will be important to demonstrate to establish that mindfulness should be included in therapy for drug abuse.

 

These results fit with the general findings that mindfulness improves the individual’s ability to regulate emotions, to be able to fully feel emotions yet act more adaptively. So, the mindful individual would be much less likely to respond to anger with aggression and violence. In addition, by focusing attention and thoughts in the present moment, the mindful individual would be less likely to ruminate about others past offenses, making it less likely that they would respond in a vengeful way toward them. Hence, since violence and aggression is so prevalent in substance abusers and mindfulness acts in opposition to aggression, mindfulness training should be considered for inclusion in drug abuse treatment.

 

So, lower aggression in substance abusers with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness also helps people learn to relate to discomfort differently. When an uncomfortable feeling like a craving or anxiety arises, people like Sophia 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.” – 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

 

Study Summary

Shorey, R. C., Anderson, S., & Stuart, G. L. (2015). The Relation Between Trait Mindfulness and Aggression in Men Seeking Residential Substance Use Treatment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30(10), 1633–1650. http://doi.org/10.1177/0886260514548586

 

Abstract

There has been an abundance of research in recent years on mindfulness, including mindfulness within individuals seeking substance use treatment. However, to date, there has been no research on whether trait mindfulness is associated with increased aggression among individuals seeking substance use treatment. Past research has demonstrated that individuals in substance use treatment evidence higher levels of aggression than non-substance abusers, and preliminary research has shown that trait mindfulness is inversely associated with aggression in non-substance-use treatment-seeking populations. The current study examined whether trait mindfulness was associated with aggression among men seeking residential substance use treatment (N = 116). Results demonstrated that lower trait mindfulness was associated with increased aggression (physical, verbal, and aggressive attitude). Moreover, this relation held for both verbal aggression and aggressive attitude after controlling for alcohol use, drug use, and age, all known predictors of aggression. Findings provide the first evidence that mindfulness is negatively associated with aggression among men in substance use treatment, which could have important implications for intervention. That is, mindfulness-based interventions may prove helpful for the treatment of both substance use and aggression.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4363039/

 

Control Alcohol Intake by Reducing Stress with Mindfulness

Control Alcohol Intake by Reducing Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It’s all about awareness and experiencing what you are doing. Enjoying powerful substances like caffeine, sugar and alcohol doesn’t have to be bad, as long as you are aware if it hurts or hinders you.” – Marc David

 

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. 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.

 

Cigarette smoking is highly linked to alcohol intake and stress is a known trigger for alcohol intake. So, in today’s Research News article “Testing a Moderated Mediation Model of Mindfulness, Psychosocial Stress, and Alcohol Use among African American Smokers.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1238379532852637/?type=3&theater

or below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4384702/

Adams and colleagues investigate the relationship of stress to drinking and how mindfulness training might affect the relationship in African American participants who are undergoing treatment to stop cigarette smoking.

 

They found that individuals with high mindfulness had lower perceived stress, lower quantities of alcohol consumed, less frequent binge drinking, and lower likelihood of an alcohol use disorder. Also, the higher the mindfulness score the lower the level of all of these alcohol intake measures. In addition, they found that the higher the level of perceived stress the higher the levels of alcohol intake. So, both mindfulness and stress were associated, albeit in opposite directions, with alcohol intake. To sort out their influences Adams and colleagues performed a statistical technique called a mediation analysis. They found that for participants who had low levels of perceived stress, mindfulness did not influence alcohol intake, but for those who were high in stress there was a strong relationship, with high mindfulness associated with low drinking and low mindfulness associated with high alcohol intake.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness moderates the relationship between stress and alcohol intake. High stress was associated with high alcohol intake and binge drinking in African American smokers who were low, but not high, in mindfulness. Indeed, nearly half (45%) of participants who were low in mindfulness showed the drinking behavior reflective of alcohol abuse and dependence on alcohol (averaging 15 drinks per week and 3.4 binge episodes in the last three months), while only one in eight (12%) who were high in mindfulness did (averaging 5 drinks per week and 1.5 binge episodes in the last three months).

 

These results suggest that being mindful is counter to alcohol intake and this may occur as a result of mindfulness protecting the individual from the ability of stress to induce alcohol intake. It is known that mindfulness training decreases the individuals psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it appears that one of the responses to stress that mindfulness affects, is the intake of alcohol. It should be noted that these results were correlational and not necessarily indicative of a causation. In future research the effect of active mindfulness training on stress’ relationship to alcohol intake needs to be explored.

 

Regardless, it appears likely that alcohol intake can be controlled by reducing stress with mindfulness.

 

“A drink or two can help us enjoy social gatherings, be a pleasurable part of meals (or baseball games), and help us celebrate important events. Still, there’s something to be said for taking pleasure in the moment for the moment itself — without the help of alcohol.” – Caren Osten Gerszberg

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available a on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Adams, C. E., Cano, M. A., Heppner, W. L., Stewart, D. W., Correa-Fernández, V., Vidrine, J. I., … Wetter, D. W. (2015). Testing a Moderated Mediation Model of Mindfulness, Psychosocial Stress, and Alcohol Use among African American Smokers. Mindfulness, 6(2), 315–325. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-013-0263-1

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based strategies have received empirical support for improving coping with stress and reducing alcohol use. The present study presents a moderated mediation model to explain how mindfulness might promote healthier drinking patterns. This model posits that mindfulness reduces perceived stress, leading to less alcohol use, and also weakens the linkage between stress and alcohol use. African American smokers (N= 399, 51% female, Mage = 42) completed measures of dispositional mindfulness, perceived stress, quantity of alcohol use, frequency of binge drinking, and alcohol use disorder symptoms. Participants with higher levels of dispositional mindfulness reported less psychosocial stress and lower alcohol use on all measures. Furthermore, mindfulness moderated the relationship between perceived stress and quantity of alcohol consumption. Specifically, higher perceived stress was associated with increased alcohol use among participants low, but not high, in mindfulness. Mindfulness may be one strategy to reduce perceived stress and associated alcohol use among African American smokers.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4384702/