Scientists identify stimuli linked to binge drinking in young adults

Scientists identify stimuli linked to binge drinking in young adults

The addictive properties of alcohol do not deter many Americans from using it. In fact, the rising number of deaths due to alcohol-related causes mirrors the extent to which American communities are involved in this powerful addictive substance. While several previous studies focused on alcohol problem among American people, a recent study, published online in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism in April 2016, highlighted the  rising tendency of  binge drinking among young adults.

While the number of units consumed in a single session differs from person to person, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as taking five or more drinks in men and four or more drinks in women, in two hours. Tendencies to involve in binge drinking are experienced mostly during college years when children transition from teenage to adulthood.

The scientists in the study, titled “Inhibitory Performance Predicting Drinking Behaviors Among Young Adults,” examined three subcomponents of inhibition behavior. They evaluated a person’s capacity to bar a response to stimuli, to revoke a reaction to stimuli already initiated and the capability to nullify stimuli related to distracting impulses to carry out the desired response.

Potential to prevent reaction to stimuli can forecast drinking behavior

For the study, the participants were required to perform three tasks involving motor responses to distinct stimuli. Each stimulus corresponded to each of the three subcomponents of inhibitive behavior. Before completion of these tasks, the respondents, aged 18-25 years, were required to provide the demographic details, information about the quantity of alcohol intake and history of binge drinking. The respondents were also required to complete an online alcohol consumption log every two weeks, at the end of which they were required to perform three motor response tasks after returning to the laboratory.

Explaining the details of the study, lead author Andres L. Paz, a psychology student in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, said, “There are many aspects of inhibition behavior, which is essentially the ability to stop yourself from a particular behavior. Looking specifically at risk factors, I wanted to see if there was one particular aspect of inhibition that could better predict propensity in young adults to binge drink.”

The scientists made use of regression model, by tabulating all the details obtained from the tasks and surveys along with the alcohol consumption logs, to predict the behavior patterns. The model was also used to calculate the number of intoxication days, the days on which the respondents turned drunk and the total number of days when they experienced a hangover.

The findings of the study indicated that the task of withholding a response that was synonymous with self-control, or the potential to prevent reaction to stimuli, was the most important condition involved in forecasting binge drinking behavior. Paz said, “Greater errors on this particular task was associated with higher numbers of drunk days.” However, the inability to withhold the response from the stimuli was found to expose the participants to a greater risk  of exhibiting binge drinking behaviors.

Road to recovery

Though it is not clear if binge drinking contributes to alcoholism, the findings of the study can definitely help caregivers adopt a more personalized approach to treat patients heavily dependent on alcohol.

If you or a loved one is struggling to overcome alcoholism, get in touch with the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California for the right treatment available at alcohol rehab centers in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 to enquire about the reputed alcohol addiction treatment facilities in California.

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