An experimental examination of mindfulness as a strategy for coping with cravings for alcohol
Murphy, Cara Marie
MetadataShow full item record
Objective: To experimentally test a mindfulness coping strategy to reduce craving and urge distress when experiencing cue-elicited cravings for alcohol. Method: After being exposed to neutral cues and alcohol cues, eighty-four heavy drinkers were asked to observe and accept their cravings, to try to distract themselves from their cravings, or to use whatever strategy they liked during a series of exposures to alcohol cues with subsequent extinction intervals in a simulated bar environment. Results: Mixed ANOVAs of craving and urge distress revealed that groups endorsed differential reactivity and extinction to alcohol cues as a function of their coping strategies. The group instructed to distract themselves reported the largest decreases in craving and urge distress. Conclusions: In this sample, occupying one’s mind with another activity was more effective at reducing craving and distress from craving acutely than a mindfulness “urge surfing” approach. In the short term, engaging in a pleasurable distracting activity may be more helpful at reducing craving for alcohol.