Mindfulness as a mediator of the association between adverse childhood experiences and alcohol use and consequences

Emma I. Brett, Hannah C. Espeleta, Susanna V. Lopez, Eleanor L.S. Leavens, Thad R. Leffingwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


One-third of college students report past-year heavy episodic drinking, making college student alcohol use an important area for continued research. Research has consistently linked early experiences of adversity to problematic substance use in adolescence and adulthood. Given the negative health consequences associated with heavy episodic drinking, it is imperative to identify mechanisms that contribute to this relation. Low levels of mindfulness have been linked to early adversity as well as impulsivity and alcohol use, therefore, the current study aims to examine the mediating role of mindfulness in the relation between early adversity and current alcohol use and consequences. Undergraduate students (N = 385) at a Midwestern university completed an online questionnaire assessing experiences of childhood adversity, trait mindfulness, and current alcohol use and related consequences. Results indicated that increased adverse experiences and lower levels of mindfulness predicted both increased alcohol consumption and consequences (ps < 0.025), with mindfulness mediating the relationships. Mindfulness is a predictor of alcohol outcomes and appears to mediate the relation between early adversity and alcohol use and consequences. Findings suggest that students with a history of adversity are more likely to exhibit lower levels of mindfulness, which may lead to an increase in alcohol consumption and consequences in early adulthood. Targeted alcohol intervention efforts that incorporate mindfulness skills may be particularly beneficial for those who have experienced early adversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-98
Number of pages7
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Adverse experiences
  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol-related consequences
  • College students
  • Mindfulness


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