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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 nonHispanic (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.

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 3 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. (PsycINFO Database Record.

Previous research on trait mindfulness facets using person-centered analyses (e.g., latent profile analysis [LPA]) has identified four distinct mindfulness profiles among college students: a high mindfulness group (high on all facets of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire [FFMQ]), a judgmentally observing group (highest on observing, but low on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness), a non-judgmentally aware group (high on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness, but very low on observing), and a low mindfulness group (low on all facets of the FFMQ). In the present study, we used LPA to identify distinct mindfulness profiles in a community-based sample of US military personnel (majority veterans; n = 407) and non-military college students (n = 310) and compare these profiles on symptoms of psychological health outcomes (e.g., suicidality, PTSD, anxiety, rumination) and percentage of participants exceeding clinically significant cutoffs for depressive symptoms, substance use, and alcohol use. In the subsample of college students, we replicated previous research and found four distinct mindfulness profiles; however, in the military subsample, we found three distinct mindfulness profiles (a combined low mindfulness/judgmentally observing class). In both subsamples, we found that the most adaptive profile was the “high mindfulness” profile (i.e., demonstrated the lowest scores on all psychological symptoms and the lowest probability of exceeding clinical cutoffs). Based on these findings, we purport that the comprehensive examination of an individual’s mindfulness profile could help clinicians tailor interventions/treatments that capitalize on an individual’s specific strengths and work to address their specific deficits.

The present study examined the associations between trait mindfulness and depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms (i.e., worry), and alcohol-related problems via decentering and purpose in life. Using structural equation modeling in a large sample of college students (N = 1,277), we found support for decentering and purpose in life as partial mediators of the associations between trait mindfulness and these outcomes. Although our findings should be viewed as preliminary given the cross-sectional study design and study population, our results are consistent with the notion that decentering and purpose in life may be mechanisms explaining the health beneficial effects of mindfulness. Future research studies with extensive assessments of potential mechanisms using experimental and longitudinal designs are needed to bolster confidence that decentering and purpose in life are important mechanisms explaining the health-promoting effects of mindfulness.