People who self-medicate pain with alcohol may be vulnerable to hazardous drinking, with their experience of pain relief a potentially powerful driver of alcohol consumption, a new study suggests. Both pain and dangerous alcohol use are major public health issues. Each affects millions of US adults and costs hundreds of billions of dollars annually in health care and lost productivity. Recent studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between pain and alcohol use; people with chronic pain are more likely than others to report heavy drinking, and those with alcohol use disorder (AUD) are more likely to report chronic pain. Alcohol has known analgesic effects. Evidence of shared neural mechanisms underlying chronic pain and substance misuse suggest alcohol’s pain-relieving capacity might be influenced by individuals’ experience of chronic pain. Better understanding the relationship between chronic pain and alcohol use could inform improved prevention and treatment approaches. For the
Heavy and light drinkers show differences in biological markers of the internal processes that regulate the 24-hour sleep/wake cycle. The study findings, reported in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, may have implications for the clinical management of patients seeking treatment for heavy drinking. Previous studies have shown that later circadian timing, manifesting as a preference for evening (‘night owl’) rather than morning (‘lark’) activity, is associated with increased alcohol consumption. However, research into the association between alcohol use and biological markers of circadian timing was lacking. Two such markers are DLMO (dim light melatonin onset – considered the gold standard circadian phase marker) and PIPR (the post-illumination pupil response – a measure of activity of photoreceptors in the eye that are a key influence on circadian timing). In the latest study, researchers compared sleep, DLMO-related measures, and photoreceptor responsivity in heavy and
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 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.
People who report having low social support are substantially more likely to experience heavy drinking and binge drinking than those who feel more supported, a large European study suggests. The researchers also found strong evidence that risky drinking is associated with areas of residence. Although alcohol use is known to be linked to social, economic, and demographic factors, the research is incomplete; it is not clear to what extent some of these factors, especially environmental conditions, predict dangerous drinking. Investigators in Spain designed a study that was unusual in exploring both heavy drinking and binge drinking and both individual and contextual (environmental) factors. The study, in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, confirmed individual risk factors and highlighted certain environmental conditions that may help target interventions for those at risk.
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?
Researchers and clinicians can better understand the health risks facing people with HIV through comprehensive measures of alcohol use, including objective biomarkers, according to a new study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Frequent or heavy alcohol use in people with HIV can affect HIV disease progression and comorbidities. Alcohol use disorder is a barrier to effectively managing HIV and contributes in multiple ways to poor health outcomes. These effects are not well understood, however, owing in part to the limitations of self-report tools (questionnaires) for measuring alcohol use. Researchers at Louisiana State University and Tulane University correlated self-reported alcohol use, measured by multiple questionnaires, with a biomarker of alcohol consumption in people with HIV. This study explores the implications of this multi-faceted approach for understanding the alcohol use of people with HIV and the related risk factors.
In studies, younger age at first alcohol use has been associated with later alcohol problems in adult life, including heavy drinking and alcohol use disorder. That is the reason why around the world, as in the Netherlands, a key aim of alcohol policy is to postpone the age at first alcohol use. In a report published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers from the Netherlands have investigated whether age of drinking onset is a risk factor for alcohol intoxication among adolescents aged under 18 years.
Mothers who drink moderate to high levels of alcohol during pregnancy may be changing their babies’ DNA, according to a Rutgers-led study.