Role Transitions in Young Adults: Link to Drinking, Stress, and Alcohol Consequences

Young adulthood is a period of multiple transitions, with individuals navigating changes in education and employment status, living situation, and relationships. Such role transitions are often positive for the individual. However, a study has shown that when young adults perceive transitions to have a negative impact on their lives, they experience more stress and are at increased risk for alcohol-related consequences. The research, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, is based on data from 767 young adult drinkers, aged 18-23 years at time of recruitment, in the Pacific Northwest region.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on alcohol consumption is far from ‘one size fits all’

An ongoing analysis of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on alcohol and related outcomes shows that COVID-related stressors experienced by study participants – including work-, financial-, and family-related stressors – are having a varied impact on individuals with and without alcohol use disorders (AUDs). These results will be shared at the 44th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA), which will be held virtually this year from the 19th – 23rd of June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the cannabis and alcohol relationship: it’s complicated

Not only is cannabis the most commonly used illicit – in a number of states – drug among people who drink alcohol, cannabis is also by far the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. overall. New research findings tease out the nuanced relationship between alcohol and cannabis through a survey of regular cannabis users who also report drinking alcohol, as well as heavy drinkers in treatment who also use cannabis. These findings will be shared at the 44th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA), which due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be held virtually this year from the 19th – 23rd of June 2021.

COVID-19 pandemic drinking: increases among women, Black adults, and people with children

Risky drinking has been a public health concern in the U.S. for decades, but the significant increase in retail alcohol sales following COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders in particular raised red flags for alcohol researchers. New research has assessed changes in alcohol drinking patterns from before to after the enactment of stay-at-home orders. These results and others will be shared at the 44th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA), which will be held virtually this year from the 19th – 23rd of June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Likelihood of Heavy Drinking Changes with the Context of the Drinking Occasion, Reveals Study

The amount of alcohol consumed during a given drinking occasion is strongly associated with the duration of the occasion combined with the beverage type and serving size, according to a study reported in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Although previous research had indicated that alcohol consumption is influenced by the drinking context — for example, by the location, timing, or who was in the drinking group — it was not clear which characteristics are most strongly associated with alcohol consumption and how different factors combine to affect it. The new study aimed to identify which features, and combinations of features, are most predictive of the units of alcohol consumed during drinking occasions in Great Britain.

Alcohol Plus Cadmium (via Smoking) Can Amplify Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk

Heavy drinking combined with cadmium exposure — most commonly via smoking — escalates the risk of hypertension, according to a new study. Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects 26 percent of the global population and is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Alcohol consumption and cadmium exposure are known risk factors for hypertension. Exposure to cadmium, a metal that accumulates in body organs, occurs mainly through smoking, which often accompanies heavy drinking. Other cadmium sources include certain foods, air pollution, and wine and beer. Alcohol increases the absorption of cadmium in the body, and evidence suggests that the two substances contribute to hypertension via shared physiological pathways. The new study, in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, is the first known epidemiological investigation of the combined effects of alcohol and cadmium on blood pressure.

Shifts in Impulsivity Linked to Changes in Alcohol Use — and Risky Drinking For Some

According to a new study, personality traits are associated with changes in alcohol use and problematic drinking, but these relationships may vary across the lifespan. The study explores alcohol consumption in the context of adult developmental stages. It suggests that changes in impulsivity and in the perceived rewards of alcohol are strongly related to changes in drinking behavior from ages 18-21, and to a lesser degree until at least age 35. Problematic drinking is known to be associated with impulsivity traits: a lack of planning (impulse control), sensation seeking, and the anticipated benefits from alcohol, such as sociability and making activities more enjoyable. Such traits evolve through adolescence and early adulthood. Understanding how shifting factors may elevate the risk to certain people at certain times potentially helps target interventions aimed at reducing heavy drinking and preventing alcohol use disorder (AUD). The study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Rese

People who Use Alcohol and Cannabis Together May Reduce Risks by Choosing Certain Products and Combinations

Young adults who combine alcohol and cannabis use experience fewer negative consequences when they stick with a single type of drink versus consuming multiple types of alcohol, according to a new study. In addition, by avoiding cannabis concentrate they may steady or lower their overall consumption. The findings suggest that for those who choose to sustain their levels of alcohol and cannabis use, judicious choice of products may reduce the risks.

An Early Effect of COVID-19 Disruption: Drinking to Cope with Distress

Using alcohol to cope with distress was associated with increased drinking during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study. Adults experiencing greater depression or lower social connectedness, and those with children under age 18, were among those at risk for drinking to cope. The COVID-19 pandemic brought extensive disruptions to daily life, involving elevated stress among the general public. This increased the likelihood of people using alcohol to cope, a motive linked to solitary drinking, heavier drinking, and alcohol-related problems. At the same time, social distancing and closures meant that access to healthier supports, such as counseling and recreation, was reduced. The study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research explored adult drinkers’ use of alcohol to cope with distress during the early pandemic, with the goal of informing interventions to address long-term alcohol-related harms.

Cutting Down But Not Out: Very-Heavy Drinkers Needn’t Quit Completely for Cardiovascular Benefit

High-risk drinkers who substantially reduce their alcohol use can lower their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) despite not completely abstaining, according to study findings published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. CVD encompasses a range of conditions involving the heart or blood vessels, and is the leading cause of death in the US. It is also one of many negative health outcomes associated with heavy drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD). Reductions in drinking can be defined using World Health Organization (WHO) ‘risk drinking levels’, which classify drinkers into ‘very high’, ‘high’, ‘moderate’ and ‘low’ risk categories based on their average daily alcohol consumption. Previous research has shown that a reduction of two or more levels (for example, from ‘very high’ to ‘moderate’) can lower the risk of multiple health issues, but did not assess the impact on CVD specifically. The latest study has examined associations between reductions in WHO risk drinking

Which Comes First: The Heavy Drinking Young Adult or the Alcohol-Saturated Social Culture?

Heavy-drinking peer groups increase young adults’ desire to drink, according to a study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Investigators used behavioral economic theory — the science of how people make choices — to assess motivations for consuming alcohol among a diverse sample of young adult drinkers. Young adults’ motivation to drink alcohol, as well as their likelihood of misusing it, is associated with how it is consumed within their social networks. But it is not well understood how these factors influence each other, and how those effects may vary depending on sex, race, and education level. For example, does the culture of heavy drinking in US colleges drive the high demand for alcohol there, or is alcohol demand high among young adults generally?

Study Highlights Impact of Drinking in Pregnancy and Informs Regional Prevention Strategies

Drinking in pregnancy can harm a developing baby. The term fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) describes the range of effects that can be caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), the most severe form, have poor growth, atypical facial features, and central nervous system problems. Less severe forms include partial fetal alcohol syndrome (pFAS) and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND). However, all three require evidence of neurobehavioral impairment affecting cognition or behavior (or both). A recent study in a US Pacific Southwest city estimated that, at a minimum, 2% of first-grade schoolchildren had an FASD. A new report in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research describes the range of FASD among these children and the characteristics of their mothers.

Neuroimaging Highlights Links between Self Control and Alcohol Use Disorder

Excessive and harmful drinking is a key feature of an alcohol use disorder. The causes of substance use disorders are complex, but deficiences in certain aspects of self-control have been implicated. A tendency to react hastily and seek out risky situations has been linked to the process of addiction, and alterations in certain frontal regions of the brain have been associated both with impulsive and sensation-seeking behavior. In a study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers have used brain imaging to further assess the links between self control and alcohol dependence.

Severe Alcohol Problems Predicted Among Heavy-Drinking College Students using Behavioral Economics

Most people drink less in situations where there are constraints on alcohol use. The sensitivity of alcohol use to the constraint of drink price can be assessed using an ‘alcohol purchase task’, whereby individuals specify how many drinks they would buy in one drinking episode across a range of prices. The data indicate an individual’s ‘demand’ for alcohol, which correlates with severity of alcohol use and related consequences. A new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research builds on such research by assessing the constraint of next-day responsibility on alcohol-related consequence in college students.

Hunger, impulsivity, childhood trauma, and drinking contribute to intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) – commonly known as domestic violence, and long associated with drinking – is a significant public health problem. Examination of patients treated at urban Emergency Departments(EDs) shows that choice of drinking venues, such as bars or…