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Brief emotion regulation strategies to reduce alcohol craving: Mediating role of state difficulties in emotion regulation.

OBJECTIVE: This study experimentally compared the effects of emotion regulation (ER) strategies on alcohol craving and examined the mediating effect of state difficulties in emotion regulation (S-DER) on the relationship between negative/positive emotion and alcohol craving.

METHOD: 417 participants (76.74% women, Mage  = 20.76 years) endorsing past-month heavy/binge drinking were randomly assigned to one of four ER conditions (positive reappraisal, distancing, distraction, and acceptance). Participants completed state assessments, including negative/positive emotion, S-DER, and alcohol craving, prior to (T0) and after (T1) engaging in a negative emotion induction task. Subsequently, participants completed an ER strategy task based on their assigned ER strategy condition and completed a third state assessment (T2).

RESULTS: Time had a significant quadratic effect on alcohol craving, such that craving increased from T0 to T1 and decreased from T1 to T2. There was no significant effect of ER strategy condition on craving. Change in S-DER mediated the relationship between the change in negative/positive emotion and the change in craving, with emotional modulation and emotional acceptance facets of S-DER dominating the mediating effect during negative emotion induction and ER strategy induction, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest interventions targeting S-DER's emotional modulation and acceptance facets could reduce acute craving when experiencing undesired emotions.

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