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

 

Be Mindful and Act with Awareness with Alcohol

 

“I’m saying let’s bring mindfulness to the act of drinking. Let’s not overindulge; let’s work with our craving in a fashion similar to the way we work with it on the meditation cushion. Let’s enjoy the experience without falling into the trap of confusion. At the end of the night of a Right Drinking, don’t be surprised if instead of feeling woozy you feel refreshed by the experience.” – Lodro Rinzler

 

Alcohol intake is a ubiquitous fact of life. In the US 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 US 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.

 

Attempts by society to make alcohol illegal have been dismal failures. So, it is important to find methods to prevent excessive alcohol intake and assist in preventing relapse in recovered alcoholics. Mindfulness has been shown to be associated with lower use of alcohol in adolescents (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/10/28/lower-substance-use-with-mindfulness/) and to help with relapse prevention with alcoholism (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/11/10/staying-on-the-wagon-with-mindfulness/). So, mindfulness may be useful in controlling alcohol intake and preventing relapse.

 

In today’s Research News article “Elucidating the Association Between Trait Mindfulness and Alcohol Use Behaviors Among College Students”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1146562698700988/?type=3&theater

Karyadi and colleagues measured mindfulness, self-reported alcohol use, and responses to alcohol related visual cues in college students. They found that the more mindful the students the less the problematic alcohol use and the lower the level of cued alcohol cravings. Of the different facets of mindfulness, they found that acting with awareness was the most highly related to lower alcohol consumption and cued cravings. Finally, they found that acting with awareness appeared to work through a reduction in cued cravings to produce its effects on alcohol intake. Hence, mindfulness, particularly acting with awareness, appears to reduce alcohol consumption by reducing the individual’s responses to cues for alcohol intake.

 

The mindfulness facet of acting with awareness involves focusing attention on what you are doing at the present moment. When an individual is acting with awareness they are fully engaged with their current activity and not acting automatically “on autopilot.” As a result, they do not respond to unconscious or subconscious signals, but rather are in complete attentional control of what they are doing. This would make it less likely that they would respond to cues signaling alcohol craving. Rather they would respond to the conditions and act on them with complete awareness and not act irrationally.

 

These results do not demonstrate that mindfulness is the cause of the reported altered consumption. It will require a trial in which mindfulness training is actively manipulated to establish a causal connection. But, these results are encouraging and suggest that such a trial should be conducted.

 

So, be mindful and act with awareness with alcohol.

 

“The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour.” – William James
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/alcohol.html#VhlXCV71s87co30G.99

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

Lower Substance Use with Mindfulness  

Research has demonstrated that the age when adolescents first start using alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs is a predictor of later alcohol and drug problems. More than 40% of youth who start drinking at age 14 or younger develop alcohol dependence, compared with 10% of youth who begin drinking at age 20 or older.” – Erik Laursen and Paul Brasler

 

Adolescence is often a time of rebellion and experimentation and drug use is often the result. In a recent survey it was found that 9% of 8th graders, 23.5% of 10th graders, and 37.4% of 12th graders used alcohol in the past month and 19.4% of seniors engaged in binge drinking. These findings are particularly troubling as nearly one in four adolescents has ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking and car accidents are the leading cause of death for adolescents. Fortunately, alcohol use by adolescents has been decreasing over the last several years.

 

Unlike the decline in alcohol use, marijuana use in adolescents has remained steady. Marijuana use in the preceding month was reported by 6.5% of 8th graders, 16.6% of 10th graders, and 21.2% of 12th graders with around 6% percent of 12th graders reporting daily use of marijuana.  Marijuana was reported as easy to obtain by 81% of 12th graders.

 

These statistics are troubling and methods to reduce the use of alcohol and marijuana among adolescents are needed. Mindfulness has been shown to help with recovery from alcohol abuse (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/08/28/kick-the-drug-habit-with-mindfulness/). This raises the question as to whether mindfulness might be useful in combating adolescent alcohol and marijuana use.

 

In today’s Research News article “When you see it, let it be: Urgency, mindfulness and adolescent substance use”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1108628525827739/?type=3&theater

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4567253/

Robinson and colleagues studied male and female youths in the 9th through 12th grades and measured mindfulness and alcohol, substance use patterns, impulsivity, and urgency, the impulsive tendency toward rash action. They found that mindfulness was associated with lower urgency, impulsivity, and alcohol and marijuana use. They also found that urgency and impulsivity were associated with greater alcohol and marijuana use.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness may be useful for restraining alcohol and marijuana use in adolescents. The findings, however, are correlational and thus do not allow the conclusion that mindfulness is the cause of lower use. It could be that lack of drug use makes them more mindful or some third factor, such as attention problems is responsible for both. A study training students in mindfulness and looking at subsequent alcohol and marijuana use is needed. But, these results are an encouraging first step.

 

The fact that mindfulness was associated with lower urgency and impulsivity is very interesting as these traits have been previously shown to be associated with the initiation of alcohol and marijuana use in adolescents. It also may indicate that mindfulness lowers alcohol and marijuana use by lowering urgency and impulsivity which in turn results in a lowering of use. It is known that mindfulness improves emotion regulation in general (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/09/10/take-command-and-control-of-your-emotions/ and http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/08/20/regulate-emotions-with-mindfulness/) and the finding for urgency and impulsivity may be another instance. Further research is needed to clarify these ideas.

 

So, lower substance use with mindfulness.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies