Ultra-brief breath counting (mindfulness) training promotes recovery from stress-induced alcohol-seeking in student drinkers
Hogarth, L; Shuai, R; Bakou, A; et al.Hardy, L
Date: 18 October 2019
The therapeutic effect of mindfulness interventions on problematic drinking is thought to be driven by increased resilience to the impact of stress on negative mood and alcohol-seeking behaviour, but this claim needs empirical support. To address this hypothesis, the current study tested whether brief training of one component of ...
The therapeutic effect of mindfulness interventions on problematic drinking is thought to be driven by increased resilience to the impact of stress on negative mood and alcohol-seeking behaviour, but this claim needs empirical support. To address this hypothesis, the current study tested whether brief training of one component of mindfulness – breath counting – would reduce drinkers’ sensitivity to the effect of noise stress on subjective mood and alcohol-seeking behaviour. Baseline alcohol-seeking was measured by choice to view alcohol versus food thumbnail pictures in 192 student drinkers. Participants then received a 6-minute audio file which either trained breath counting or recited a popular science extract, in separate groups. All participants were then stressed by a loud industrial noise and alcohol-seeking was measured again, simultaneously (to quantify the change from baseline). Subjective mood was measured after all three stages (baseline, post intervention, post stress test). The breath counting group were instructed to deploy this technique during the stress test. Results showed that the breath counting versus control intervention improved subjective mood relative to baseline, attenuated the worsening of subjective mood produced by stress induction, and accelerated recovery from a stress induced increase in alcohol-seeking behaviour. Exploratory moderation analysis showed that this accelerated recovery from stress induced alcohol-seeking by breath counting was weaker in more alcohol dependent participants. Mindfulness therapies may improve problematic drinking by increasing resilience to stress induced negative mood and alcohol-seeking, observed in this study. The weaker therapeutic effect of breath counting in more dependent drinkers may reveal limitations to this intervention strategy.
College of Life and Environmental Sciences
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's licence is described as © 2019 University of Exeter. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY/4.0/)