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Mindfulness as a Moderator of Risk Factors for Alcohol-Related Problems

9 December 2010


Excessive drinking among college students remains a problem affecting not only the students themselves but the individuals they come in contact with, the institutions they attend, and the communities in which they reside. Further research examining risk and protective factors is needed to help inform prevention and treatment efforts being implemented on college campuses. A number of researchers have suggested that impulsivity and drinking to relieve stress both predict problem drinking among college students. Studies examining this relationship have been somewhat inconsistent indicating the possible presence of a moderating variable. Mindfulness may be conceptually related to these risk factors and mindfulness-based interventions are increasingly being used in treatment programs targeting substance abuse. Few studies, however have examined how mindfulness might be related to college drinking. The aim of this dissertation was to investigate the relationship between alcohol-related problems and the following factors: (1) impulsivity, (2) stressful life events, and (3) mindfulness. The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (Brown & Ryan, 2003) and the Inventory of College Students’ Recent Life Stress (Osman, Barrios, Longnecker, & Osman, 1994) were used to measure level of mindfulness and stress among college students, respectively. As expected, impulsivity predicted the risk for negative consequences related to drinking even after frequency of consumption was accounted for. In addition, level of mindfulness significantly moderated the relationship between impulsivity and alcohol-related problems. It appears that having a disposition towards mindfulness may be a protective factor when it comes to the relationship between impulsivity and alcohol related problems. Contrary to expectations, a significant relationship was not found between stressful life events and alcohol-related problems. The implications and limitations of these findings, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.


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