Feasibility Pilot of a Brief Mindfulness Intervention for College Students with Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Problem Drinking

Helen Valenstein-Mah, Tracy L. Simpson, Sarah Bowen, Matt C. Enkema, Elizabeth R. Bird, Hye In Cho, Mary E. Larimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A significant subset of college students experience PTSD symptoms, and many engage in problematic alcohol use. Some college students with PTSD symptoms may use alcohol and other substances to cope with their symptoms, and those with PTSD experience more negative alcohol and drug consequences than those without PTSD. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been successfully utilized for individuals with PTSD or substance use disorders. However, to date, no studies have evaluated MBIs for college students with co-occurring PTSD symptoms and problem drinking. This study was a feasibility pilot of a 4-week group loving-kindness meditation (LKM) intervention, a practice of intentionally directing well wishes to oneself and others. LKM was compared to referral to treatment as usual (RTAU) for non-treatment seeking college students (N = 75) with PTSD symptoms and problem drinking. Overall, the LKM group had low to moderate feasibility and acceptability among college students, as recruitment was lower than expected and attendance at LKM groups was modest. Participants’ PTSD symptoms, drinking quantity, and negative drinking consequences decreased, and state mindfulness increased over the course of the study, but there were no significant differences between LKM and RTAU on these outcomes. Additionally, higher coping drinking motives predicted greater PTSD symptoms and more drinking consequences over the course of the study. Effective interventions for college students with PTSD symptoms and problematic alcohol use are needed, especially for individuals who drink to cope with their PTSD symptoms. Future research on LKM that addresses the limitations of the current study is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1255-1268
Number of pages14
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (F31AA023420-01A1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply.


  • College students
  • Loving-kindness meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Problem drinking
  • PTSD symptoms

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Feasibility Pilot of a Brief Mindfulness Intervention for College Students with Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Problem Drinking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this