Feasibility, acceptability, and outcomes of a brief mindfulness intervention for college students with posttraumatic stress symptoms and problem drinking
Valenstein-Mah, Helen Renee
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The majority of college students will experience a traumatic event either before or during college, and a significant subset of those students experience PTSD symptoms. Additionally, many college students engage in problematic alcohol use. There is evidence that individuals with co-occurring PTSD symptoms and alcohol and other substance use disorders often use substances in an attempt to reduce their PTSD symptoms, and college students with PTSD symptoms experience more negative alcohol and drug consequences than those without PTSD. The relationship between PTSD and alcohol and other substance use disorders is often cyclical: individuals use substances to cope with PTSD symptoms, which in turn exacerbate symptoms and make them vulnerable to further traumatic experiences. Mindfulness interventions have been successfully utilized for individuals with PTSD or substance use disorders. However, to date, no previous studies have evaluated treatments for college students with co-occurring PTSD symptoms and problem drinking. This study evaluated the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of a 4-week group loving-kindness meditation (LKM) compared to referral to treatment as usual (RTAU) for college students with PTSD symptoms and problem drinking. Seventy-six college students participated in the current study. Overall, the LKM group was feasible and acceptable to college students, although recruitment of eligible students into the study was lower than expected and attendance at LKM groups was modest. Participants’ PTSD symptoms, drinking quantity, and negative drinking consequences decreased over the course of the study, although there was no significant differences between the LKM and RTAU conditions on these outcomes. Additionally, higher coping drinking motives predicted greater PTSD symptoms and more drinking consequences, highlighting the need for early effective intervention for individuals who drink to cope with their PTSD symptoms.
- Psychology