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The first year of university is associated with the heaviest alcohol and drug use for young adults. Trait mindfulness decreases risk for harmful substance use broadly, but less is known about its protective role against alcohol and drug use during the first year of university. We hypothesized that specific facets of trait mindfulness (acting with awareness, nonjudging of inner experience, and nonreactivity to inner experience) would predict reduced alcohol and drug use among first-year university students. Given that the same facets of trait mindfulness protect against anxiety and depression (i.e., emotional psychopathology), we expected low levels of emotional psychopathology to mediate these effects.
First-year undergraduates (N = 308) completed online self-reports in a longitudinal study. Facets of trait mindfulness were assessed at the beginning of the semester (Time 1). Emotional psychopathology, alcohol use, and drug use were assessed 4 months later (Time 2).
Results revealed that the acting with awareness, nonjudging of inner experience, and nonreactivity to inner experience facets predicted decreased alcohol and drug use at Time 2 (controlling for Time 1 outcomes). These effects were mediated by low levels of emotional psychopathology.
Our study demonstrates that first-year students who are high in specific facets of trait mindfulness are less likely to experience elevated emotional psychopathology, and in turn, are less likely to engage in harmful alcohol and drug use.
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- Specific Facets of Trait Mindfulness Reduce Risk for Alcohol and Drug Use Among First-Year Undergraduate Students
Edward A. Johnson
Matthew T. Keough
- Springer US