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Specific Facets of Trait Mindfulness Reduce Risk for Alcohol and Drug Use Among First-Year Undergraduate Students

The first year of attending a university is often linked to heavy alcohol and drug use among young adults. Trait mindfulness, meaning acting with awareness and in a purposeful and nonjudgmental way, is linked to reduction in risk of substance use in the broad population. However, effects of mindfulness in young adults are not as well known. A recent study observed facets of trait mindfulness among first year university students in Canada and observed the outcomes of drug and alcohol use.

In this study, college students took the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire which measures mindfulness of an individual in five components: observing, describing, acting with awareness, nonjudging of inner experience, and nonreactivity to inner experience. They completed this questionnaire at the beginning and end of their first semester. They were also screened for mental health and harmful drinking or drug use behaviors.

The results showed that acting with awareness, nonjudging of inner experience, and nonreactivity to inner experience were related to decreased drug and alcohol use. Students having low levels of emotional psychopathology were also linked to higher trait mindfulness and therefore mediated the effect of mindfulness on drug and alcohol use.

Take Away: First year university students who exhibit mindfulness in that they act with awareness and in a nonreactive and nonjudgmental way towards themselves are less likely to engage in alcohol and drug use compared to other first year students.

Single, A., Bilevicius, E., Johnson, E.A., Keough, M.T. (2019). Specific Facets of Trait Mindfulness Reduce Risk for Alcohol and Drug Use Among First-Year Undergraduate Students. Mindfulness.

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