Insomnia Symptoms May Predict Subsequent Drinking in Adults

People with symptoms of insomnia may be likely to increase their drinking over time, according to a study published in Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research. In the study of adult drinkers, people who had worse insomnia symptoms at the outset of the study tended to increase the amount they drank and the number of times they binge drank during the subsequent year. The researchers found that, even at subclinical levels, insomnia symptoms were a significant predictor of future drinking in adults, suggesting that insomnia symptoms should be addressed to help reduce the risk of problem drinking.

Shared Genetic Factors Influence Risk for Both Disordered Eating and Alcohol Use in Late Adolescence

Certain genetic influences contribute to disordered eating and problematic alcohol use, leaving some people vulnerable to both conditions, according to a large study of late adolescent twins. Previous research has found concurrent eating disorders and risky drinking in younger teens amplify the chance of worse outcomes, including death.

Brain Imaging May Predict Motivation for Behavior Change in Alcohol Use Disorder

Brain imaging of neuron activity in certain areas of the brain may predict whether an individual is likely to successfully respond to interventions to reduce their drinking. In a study published in Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, individuals whose baseline imaging showed decreased activity in areas of the brain associated with reward processing and impulsivity and increased activity in regions responsible for complex cognitive processes and emotional regulation were more likely to reduce their drinking following an intervention.

Web and Smartphone Apps Providing Personalized Feedback Can Help Hazardous Drinkers Substantially Reduce Their Alcohol Consumption Over Eight Weeks

Brief electronic intervention providing personalized feedback can help hazardous drinkers substantially reduce their drinking, according to a new study in Alcohol: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Alcohol Use, Even at Low Levels, Increases Risk of Developing Disease

Even low levels of alcohol use can increase the likelihood of developing diseases like cancer and heart disease. A systematic review of studies of the relationship between alcohol use and risk of disease published in Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research found that disease risk increases as alcohol use increases and high levels of alcohol use have clear detrimental health effects. While lower-level alcohol use can be protective against certain diseases, it can have significant adverse health effects for many other diseases. The authors urge greater awareness that any level of alcohol use can increase a person’s risk of developing serious, even fatal, diseases.

Emailed boosters after online interventions can help college and university students cut back on excessive drinking

Alcohol consumption is known to be pervasive and problematic among college and university student populations. New research has found that while online interventions alone can effectively help a typical student cut back on excessive drinking, emailed boosters after online interventions may be needed for heavier drinking students. These results and others will be shared at the 46th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcohol (RSA) in Bellevue, Washington.

Parental provision of alcohol to adolescent children and peer influence linked to subsequent alcohol harms

Parental supply of alcohol is a relatively common practice in Australia, believed by some parents to be an effective means of teaching their children to drink responsibly. New research shows that family and peer factors each play a role in the development of excessive and risky drinking in early adulthood and associated harms. These results and others will be shared at the 46th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcohol (RSA) in Bellevue, Washington.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated alcohol home delivery, increasing alcohol consumption

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many states expanded online alcohol sales and alcohol home delivery laws. One of the first U.S. studies of the impact on adults of home delivery of alcohol during the early months of the pandemic found significantly more alcohol consumption and binge drinking among those who obtained their alcohol through home delivery than those who did not. These results and others will be shared at the 46th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcohol (RSA) in Bellevue, Washington.

Differences in alcohol metabolism play a role in the severity of alcohol hangovers

Hangovers are common among people who drink alcohol. Previous research showing that a hangover’s combination of both mental and physical misery can occur after a single episode of alcohol consumption also revealed that a rapid breakdown of alcohol into acetaldehyde is associated with less severe hangovers. Findings from an investigation of the metabolic influence of oral microbiota on hangover severity will be shared at the 46th annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcohol (RSA) in Bellevue, Washington.

A vicious cycle: How alcohol’s impact on the brain makes us more likely to drink

Heavy alcohol use creates a vicious cycle: It changes signaling pathways in the brain, which in turn affects cognitive functions like decision-making and impulse control — and makes the individual more likely to drink. The mechanism behind this may involve the brain’s immune system, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Where and with Whom College Students Drank during the COVID-19 Pandemic was Associated with Different Types of Consequences

During the COVID-19 pandemic, college students drinking outside the home or at home alone experienced a wider range of drinking consequences compared to those more frequently drinking at home with others, either in-person or virtually, according to a new study. Drinking at home also carried considerable risk. The findings, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, suggest that intervention and prevention efforts may be more effectively tailored by considering the contexts in which students are drinking.

Laws Allowing Insurers to Deny Alcohol-Related Claims Do Not Deter Drinking, Study Suggests

State laws designed to prevent dangerous drinking behaviors do not appear to have that effect, according to a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Alcohol exclusion laws allow insurance companies to deny payment for injuries caused by alcohol consumption and were adopted more than seventy years ago to prevent problem drinking and related insurance costs. But a rigorous analysis of drinking behaviors found no evidence that repealing these laws increases alcohol consumption or binge drinking. Previous reports have found these laws to be a barrier to screening and treatment for alcohol issues, resulting in billions of dollars in added healthcare costs.

New Algorithm Can Identify Images of Alcohol in Electronic Media; Potential Tool to Limit Online Exposure to Alcohol Marketing

A new algorithm has been found to identify images of alcohol in electronic media with a high degree of accuracy. Possible applications for this algorithm include public health research to quantify exposure to images of alcohol and mobile or web applications to allow individuals to filter unwanted exposure to online alcohol advertising or alcohol-related content. The development and testing of the algorithm are described in a paper published in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The algorithm has been made publicly available at no charge.

Young Children Who See Parents Consume Alcohol Form Gender-Specific Perceptions of Drinking, Potentially Shaping Their Future Behavior

Young children’s exposure to their mothers’ and fathers’ drinking influences their perceptions of who consumes alcohol, with “vast implications” for their own future use, a new study suggests. The study, in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, provides compelling evidence of intergenerational transmission of drinking behaviors to children, including gender-based perceptions — the first time these effects have been demonstrated in children aged 4–8. Children’s exposure to the use of alcohol around them is known to shape their perceptions of “typical” alcohol consumption (norms). Those perceptions influence drinking initiation, usually as adolescents, and alcohol consumption over time. Recent research has shown that how much parents drink in general is less relevant in this regard than their alcohol use in the presence of children. For the new study, investigators explored how exposure to mothers’ and fathers’ drinking influences young children’s perceptions of alcohol-related n

The COVID-19 pandemic increased depression among young adults, particularly women

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on many people’s lives. Emerging adults may have been particular impacted, given their transition from adolescence to adulthood during such a time of upheaval, with their educational and career aspirations thrown into disarray. A new study has found that the risk for depression tripled among young people – particularly younger women – during the pandemic, and that this risk persisted into 2021.

Situational Motives: Reasons for Forgoing Drinking or Cannabis Use Among College Students

A study has revealed college students’ reasons for abstaining from alcohol or cannabis, including on days when they had initially planned to use one or both substances. The analysis, reported in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, extends research into the so-called “intention-behavior gap” by being the first study to examine reasons for non-use following an intention to drink or to use cannabis. The findings could inform strategies for alcohol and substance use prevention and intervention on college campuses.

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…