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Addict Behav. 2007 Oct;32(10):2324-8. Epub 2007 Jan 23.

The role of thought suppression in the relationship between mindfulness meditation and alcohol use.

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University of Washington, Department of Psychology, Box 351525, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Previous studies have demonstrated that attempts to suppress thoughts about using substances may actually lead to increases in substance use. Vipassana, a mindfulness meditation practice, emphasizes acceptance, rather than suppression, of unwanted thoughts. A study by Bowen and colleagues examining the effects of a Vipassana course on substance use in an incarcerated population showed significant reductions in substance use among the Vipassana group as compared to a treatment - usual control condition [Bowen S., Witkiewitz K., Dillworth T.M., Chawla N., Simpson T.L., Ostafin B.D., et al. (2006). Mindfulness Meditation and Substance Use in an Incarcerated Population. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.]. The current study further examines the mediating effects of thought suppression in the relationship between participation in the course and subsequent alcohol use. Those who participated in the course reported significant decreases in avoidance of thoughts when compared to controls. The decrease in avoidance partially mediated effects of the course on post-release alcohol use and consequences.

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