Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 441–450 | Cite as

Mindfulness is Inversely Associated with Alcohol Attentional Bias Among Recovering Alcohol-Dependent Adults

  • Eric L. GarlandEmail author
  • Charlotte A. Boettiger
  • Susan Gaylord
  • Vicki West Chanon
  • Matthew O. Howard
Original Article


Although mindfulness has been linked with salutary clinical outcomes, less is known about its relation to cognitive mechanisms implicated in the onset and maintenance of alcohol dependence. Because trait mindfulness is associated with attentional control and emotion regulation, we hypothesized that trait mindfulness would be inversely associated with attentional bias towards visual alcohol cues. We tested this hypothesis in a sample of alcohol-dependent adults residing in a treatment facility, who completed questionnaires on trait mindfulness, craving, and stress, as well as a spatial cueing task designed to assess alcohol attentional bias. Recovering alcohol-dependent individuals high in trait mindfulness exhibited less alcohol attentional bias (AB), stress, and craving, and greater alcohol-related self-efficacy, than their counterparts low in trait mindfulness. Multiple linear regression analyses indicated that trait mindfulness was more predictive of alcohol AB than stress, craving, alcohol-related self-efficacy, time in treatment, or pre-treatment level of alcohol consumption. Identification of malleable traits that can offset automatic cognitive mechanisms implicated in addiction may prove to be crucial to treatment development efforts.


Mindfulness Attentional bias Craving Stress Alcohol dependence 



ELG was supported by Grant Number T32AT003378 from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a Francisco J. Varela Research Grant from the Mind and Life Institute, and an Armfield-Reeves Innovation Grant from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. CAB was supported by Award Number KL2RR025746 from the National Center for Research Resources. VWC was supported by Grant Number F32DA025442 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The authors acknowledge the expert technical assistance of Laura Andrews.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric L. Garland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Charlotte A. Boettiger
    • 2
  • Susan Gaylord
    • 3
  • Vicki West Chanon
    • 4
  • Matthew O. Howard
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Social Work, Trinity Institute for the Addictions, Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Biomedical Research Imaging Center, Bowles Center for Alcohol StudiesUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.School of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation—Program on Integrative MedicineUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience ProgramChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.School of Social WorkUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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