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/

 

Alter Drinking Motives with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Choosing to alter your relationship with alcohol and drink moderately can be achieved through mindfulness and deliberate behavior modifications.  Mindfulness allows you to become aware of your ongoing moment-to-moment experience.  It is the opposite of “checking out.”  When you choose to tune in to the present moment and tap into your ability to increase self-awareness, changes in problematic drinking habits can occur.” – Laura Schenck

 

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.

 

Alcohol abuse can have dire consequences as 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. But, drinking has widespread consequence to 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.

 

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, in particular, how mindfulness affects the motivations for alcohol intake by college students. In today’s Research News article “Drinking Motives Mediate the Negative Associations between Mindfulness Facets and Alcohol Outcomes among College Students”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1221322997891624/?type=3&theater

Or see below or for full text see

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4388773/

Roos and colleagues addressed this question by assessing mindfulness, drinking behavior, and motives for drinking in college students who were self-reported drinkers.

 

They found that three of the five mindfulness facets were negatively associated with drinking motives. When the facets of mindfulness of describing experience, non-judging of experience, and acting with awareness were high, there were lower levels of drinking to cope with a poor mood, drinking out of conformity, social drinking, and drinking to enhance mood. In turn, when these motives were high, with the exception of social drinking, there were higher levels of alcohol use and alcohol related problems. Hence, mindfulness appears to act by lowering motives for drinking and this in turn lowers amounts and problems with alcohol.

 

These are potentially important findings. If mindfulness skills can moderate the motives for drinking, then mindfulness training may be very helpful for college students to control their drinking. Mindfulness skills are known to improve emotion regulation, making individuals better at appreciating their emotions but acting more adaptively and appropriately to them. This undercuts the motives for drinking that involve emotions.  Mindfulness, by making the individuals more aware of exactly how they are feeling and more in touch with what is happening around them, makes them better able to recognize what is driving them toward drinking, and thereby be better able to adapt and drink appropriately.

 

It should be kept in mind that this study was correlational. That is, there was no active manipulation of mindfulness. So, it is not possible to conclude causal relationships. It remains for future research to investigate whether mindfulness training could result in a lowering of the motivations for drinking and as a result lowering drinking. Regardless, it is clear that mindfulness if significantly associated with lower motivation to drink which is in turn associated with lower intake.

 

So, alter drinking motives with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness is likely an effective tool in helping people with addiction because it’s a single, simple skill that a person can practice multiple times throughout their day, every day, regardless of the life challenges that arise.” – James Davis

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

Study Summary

Roos, C. R., Pearson, M. R., & Brown, D. B. (2015). Drinking Motives Mediate the Negative Associations between Mindfulness Facets and Alcohol Outcomes among College Students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors : Journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors, 29(1), 176–183. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0038529

 

Abstract

Mindfulness and drinking motives have both been linked to affect regulation, yet the relationship between mindfulness and drinking motives is poorly understood. The present study examined whether drinking motives, particularly mood regulatory motives, mediated the associations between facets of mindfulness and alcohol-related outcomes among college students (N = 297). We found three specific facets of mindfulness (describing, nonjudging of inner experience, and acting with awareness) to have negative associations with alcohol outcomes. Importantly, specific drinking motives mediated these associations such that lower levels of mindfulness were associated with drinking for distinct reasons (enhancement, coping, conformity), which in turn predicted alcohol use and/or alcohol problems. Our findings suggest that drinking motives, especially mood regulatory and negative reinforcement motives, are important to examine when studying the role of mindfulness in college student drinking behavior.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4388773/

 

Religiosity Protects against Alcohol and Drug Abuse

“Research investigating the relationship between religious commitment and drug use consistently indicates that those young people who are seriously involved in religion are more likely to abstain from drug use than those who are not; moreover, among users, religious youth are less likely than non-religious youth to use drugs heavily” – Gerald Bachman

 

Alcohol intake is a ubiquitous fact of life. In the United States 87% of adults reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 71% reported that they drank in the past year; 56% reported that they drank in the past month. If alcohol intake is tempered by moderation and caution it can be enjoyed and may be potentially beneficial. But as alcohol intake gets out of control it can lead to binge drinking and alcoholism. It is reported that 25% of U.S. adults reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the last month and 7% have what is termed an alcohol use disorder.

 

This is troubling as it can be very dangerous and potentially 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. So, clearly, it is important to control excessive alcohol intake.

 

Spirituality and religiosity have been shown to be associated with successful treatment and relapse prevention with substance abuse in general including alcoholism. Alcohol intake and binge drinking rates are higher in sexual minorities than in heterosexuals, especially women. So, it makes sense to further investigate the relationship of spirituality and religiosity with alcohol intake in sexual minority women. In today’s Research News article “Religiosity as a protective factor for hazardous drinking and drug use among sexual minority and heterosexual women: Findings from the National Alcohol Survey”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1173823035974954/?type=3&theater

Drabble and colleagues revisit a major national survey of alcohol intake patterns and investigate participation in religion and alcohol intake in sexual minority women.

 

They found that sexual minority women had significantly higher rates of drug use in general including alcohol intake, higher rates of hazardous drinking and lower rates of being lifetime abstainers from alcohol. Sexual minority women had significantly lower rates of high religiosity and participation in religions that had norms unfavorable to alcohol intake. This was particularly true with lesbian women. So, sexual minority women are more likely to drink and misuse alcohol and are less religious than heterosexual women. They also found that religiosity was associated with higher rates of lifetime abstinence of alcohol regardless of sexual orientation. But, religiosity and participation in religions that had norms unfavorable to alcohol intake were associated with lower rates of hazardous alcohol or illicit drug use in heterosexual women but not in sexual minority women. So, religiosity appears to have less of an impact on alcohol intake in sexual minority women than heterosexual women.

 

Why is religiosity associated with lower overall and hazardous use of alcohol? One possible reason is that religions in general have negative teachings about alcohol. Buddhism teaches that intoxication is an impediment to spiritual development. Other religions completely prohibit alcohol while many decry the behaviors that occur during alcoholic stupor.  This provides a cognitive incompatibility between drinking and religiosity. The recognition that drinking is not an OK thing to do might provide the extra motivation to help withstand the cravings. In addition, religious groups tend to be populated with non-alcoholics. So, increased religiosity also tends to shift the individual’s social network away from drinking buddies to people less inclined to provide temptation. It is very difficult to not drink when those around you are not only drinking themselves but encouraging you to drink. So shifting social groups to people who either abstain or demonstrate controlled drinking can help tremendously.

 

But, why does religiosity appear to have a smaller effect on sexual minority women than heterosexual women? One possibility is that many religions are associated with negative teachings regarding homosexuality. For sexual minority women, their rejection of these teachings may generalize to affect their adherence to the other teaching of the religion including alcohol intake. As a result, being religious has less of an impact on alcohol and drug use for these women. It would be interesting to investigate the relationship of religiosity and alcohol intake in sexual minority women who belong to religions that are very tolerant to homosexuality versus religions who are intolerant.

 

Regardless, protects against alcohol and drug abuse with religiosity.

 

“Religious involvement can protect against substance use by providing opportunities for prosocial activities, which themselves may promote antidrug conduct norms, and for interaction with nondeviant peers. Youth who are involved in religious activities tend to form peer groups with youth who are involved in similar activities, and they are less likely to form friendships with deviant peers.” – Flavio Marsiglia

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

Better Control Drinking with Mindfulness

“mindfulness gives us the strength psychologically and neurologically to sit in discomfort, to lean into the void, as opposed to avoid it and jump to our addiction.” – Mindful Muscle

 

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.

 

Alcohol abuse can have dire consequences as 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. But, drinking has widespread consequence to 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.

 

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 (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/category/research-news/alcoholism/) and in recovery from alcohol addiction (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/category/research-news/addiction/). So it would make sense to further explore the effects of mindfulness on alcohol intake in college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “How to think about your drink: Action-identification and the relation between mindfulness and dyscontrolled drinking”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1172645472759377/?type=3&theater

Schellhas and colleagues do exactly that, examining the relationships between mindfulness, alcohol intake, difficulty in controlling alcohol intake, and their identification with alcohol intake in college students. Interestingly, they did not find a relationship between mindfulness and weekly use of alcohol. But there was a relationship between mindfulness and the ability to control alcohol intake. In other words, mindful individuals drink as much as those with low mindfulness but they are better able to control their intake.

 

They also found that mindfulness also had an indirect effect on alcohol consumption. Mindfulness was negatively related to the use of alcohol to escape emotional problems. This escape use of alcohol intake was strongly related to the inability to control alcohol intake. In other words, students high in mindfulness were less likely to use alcohol to deal with their emotional problems and this in turn allowed the students to better control, their intake.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness may help students control alcohol intake. The study, however, did not actively change levels of mindfulness, but simply measured existing levels and their relations to alcohol consumption. As a result, it cannot be concluded that mindfulness was responsible for the better control of intake. It could be that individuals who are better at controlling behavior are more mindful or that some third factor such as emotional maturity was related to both. Future research is needed where mindfulness training is implemented to increase students’ mindfulness and observe its subsequent effect on intake and ability to control intake.

 

Regardless it is clear the mindfulness and control of alcohol intake are positively related. So, better control drinking with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness is likely an effective tool in helping people with addiction because it’s a single, simple skill that a person can practice multiple times throughout their day, every day, regardless of the life challenges that arise. With so much opportunity for practice—rather than, say, only practicing when someone offers them a cigarette—people can learn that skill deeply.” – Sarah Bowen

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies