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Research

Learn more about the latest and most up-to-date research in the field of AOD misuse prevention and recovery!

Latest Research (April 17 – April 23)

*Click on the article title to open link to full research article.

Study finds mindfulness as a mediator between early childhood adversity and alcohol use and consequences among college students

A new study examined the mediating role of mindfulness in the relation between early adversity and current alcohol use and consequences. Participants (N = 385) were undergraduate college students attending a large, public, Midwestern university. Participants completed an online questionnaire, which assessed demographics as well as the following. Alcohol use and related consequences was assessed using the Daily Drinking Questionnaire (DDQ) and the Brief Young Adult Alcohol Con- sequences Questionnaire (BYAACQ). Mindfulness was assessed using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). Lastly, early childhood adversity was assessed using the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire – Short Form (ACES-SF). The authors used bivariate correlations between variables as well as regression analyses to test meditational models. Results indicated that participants reported drinking an average of 8.41 drinks per week and experiencing approximately 6.42 unique alcohol-related consequences during the past month. They also reported consuming about 4.65 drinks per occasion and having moderate levels of mindfulness. With respect to childhood adversity prevalence rates, parental substance misuse (19.5%) and mental illness were most commonly reported (19.5%). This was followed by childhood emotional abuse (17.9%), emotional neglect (16.1%), childhood physical abuse (9.4%), childhood sexual abuse (8.8%), parental incarceration (7.8%), and witnessing domestic violence (5.5%). ACES was negatively associated with trait mindfulness (p < 0.01) and positively associated with alcohol consequences (p < 0.001). Also, mindfulness was negatively correlated with both drinks per week (p < 0.01) and alcohol-related consequences (p < 0.001). In addition, ACEs significantly predicted mindfulness (p < 0.025). ACES (the predictor), mindfulness (mediator), and gender (covariate) significantly predicted the outcome of alcohol-related consequences (p < 0.001) as well as drinks per week (p < 0.025). Finally, higher ACE scores (p < 0.025), male gender (p < 0.025), and lower mindfulness scores (p < 0.001) were associated with increased experience of alcohol-related consequences.

Take away: This study found mindfulness to be a predictor of alcohol outcomes as well as a mediator between early adversity and alcohol use and consequences.

Brett, E. I., Espeleta, H. C., Lopez, S. V., Leavens, E. L., & Leffingwell, T. R. (2018). Mindfulness as a mediator of the association between adverse childhood experiences and alcohol use consequences. Addictive Behavior, 92-98.

Study identifies six themes providing insight into college students’ experiences of being in recovery 

A new study aimed at enhancing the understanding of the experiences of college students in recovery. Participants (N = 8) were college students attending a 4-year university that did not currently offer a Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) and were in recovery from a substance use disorder. Participants took part in interviews, which included a brief screening interview followed by two in-depth interviews that were audio recorded. The author used the hermeneutic phenomenological method for data analysis. Results indicated that participants reported six themes along with several subthemes related to their experiences of being a college student in recovery. For the first theme, “Navigating the Stigma of Addiction”, participants described their experiences of navigating the negative stigma often attached to substance use and addiction. For the second theme, “Balancing Recovery With Multiple Roles and Responsibilities”, participants expressed that although they had several roles and responsibilities as college students, their recovery remained a priority. For the third theme, “The Impact of Recovery on Academics and Work”, participants described how being in recovery affected their academic and career trajectories, as well as how academics and work affected their recovery. For this theme, two subthemes were found: relationship between recovery and academics, and relationship between recovery and career and employment. For the fourth theme, “Changes in Relationships as a Result of Recovery”, participants shared about making significant changes in their peer and family relationships and social activities. This theme included three subthemes: changes in social life and relationships with peers, changes in relationships with family, and stepping into a helping role. For the fifth theme, “Enhancing Overall Wellness”, participants talked about how their recoveries served as the foundation of their wellness. This theme included two subthemes: spirituality as a means of coping and mental health. For the last theme, “Utilization of and Recommendations for Recovery-Based Services and Resources”, participants shared their experiences with an wide variety of recovery-based services and resources as well as those that they believed would be helpful, even if such services or resources were not available at their institution. This theme included several subthemes: recovery-based meetings and communities, employing knowledgeable professionals and fostering greater awareness among the student body.

Take away: Through conducting in-depth interviews with college students, this study identified six themes related to their experiences of being a college student in recovery.

Iarussi, M. M. (2018). The Experiences of College Students in Recovery From Substance Use Disorders. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling39(1), 46-62.

Study finds increase in cannabis use among college students post-legalization in Colorado 

In 2012, Colorado legalized cannabis for recreational use for adults 21 and older. A new study examined whether (1) college student cannabis use, for those who are 21 years or older, would increase after recreational legalization, and (2) there would be a positive relation between the influence of cannabis legislation on out-of-State student’s decision to attend a Colorado university and their cannabis use. Participants (N = 5241) were undergraduate college students who completed a survey as part of a study on personality and health risk behaviors. As part of the survey, participants responded to a series of questions and questionnaires including the following. Cannabis use was assessed using the Risky Behavior Inventory (RBI), which included questions related to their engagement in a variety of health-risk behaviors. Participants also responded to questions related to their out-of-State vs. In-State student status and whether cannabis laws influenced their decision to attend school in Colorado. The authors used Pearson’s Chi-square, negative binomial regressions, and path analysis to examine the hypotheses mentioned previously. Results indicated that that before legalization, 43.5% of participants reported having tried cannabis, after legalization, 53.6% reported having tried cannabis (p < .001). Specifically, for participants under 21 years, 43.7% reported having tried cannabis pre-legalization, and 52.6% post-legalization (p < .001). For participants over 21, 40% reported having tried cannabis before legalization, this increased to 60.9% after legalization (p < .001). While being of legal age predicted higher past 30-day use than being underage, pre- and post-legalization did not predict such differences. With respect to the influence of cannabis laws on out-of- State student’s decision to attend a Colorado university and their cannabis use, significant relations between the variables were found. Moreover the reported influence of cannabis laws, on non-resident student’s decision to attend a Colorado college, positively predicted both past 30-day and lifetime use. In addition, both out-of-State students and legal-aged students, reported higher past 30-day use than their peers.

Take away: This study found that cannabis use increased for all students in the sample post-legalization, with the greatest increase for those over 21 years old. However, there were no differences in past 30-day use frequency between pre-post legalization.

 Parnes, J. E., Smith, J. K., & Conner, B. T. (2018). Reefer madness or much ado about nothing? Cannabis legalization outcomes among young adults in the United States. International Journal of Drug Policy56, 116-120.

Latest Research (April 10 – April 16)

*Click on the article title to open link to full research article.

Study finds cannabis self-concept linked with negative outcomes among emerging adults

Emerging adulthood, which is a time of identity development, is also a common time for cannabis use. An emerging adult’s identification with cannabis as part of their personality or identity may impact use behavior. A recent study sought to extend previous research that found a link between self-concept, motivational factors, and normative beliefs by evaluating relationships between cannabis self-concept, motives for use, motivation to change, perceived descriptive norms, and cannabis-related outcomes. The sample of community participants (n = 345) were emerging adults (mean age 21) who had used cannabis in the past month. Participants responded to questionnaires that were presented verbally and included the following measures. Explicitly-measured cannabis self-concept was assessed using the Cannabis Self-Concept scale. Cannabis use was assessed using the Timeline Followback method (TLFB). Cannabis problems and symptoms were assessed using the Marijuana Problems Scale. Motives for cannabis use were assessed using the Marijuana Motives Measure (MMM). Motivation to change was assessed using the Thoughts about Abstinence (TAA) scale. Descriptive norms were assessed, for two groups including close friends and peers, using questions related to number of close friends that they had, number of close friends that smoke cannabis, and perception of use by peers. The authors used multiple linear regression models to evaluate the associations between background characteristics, measures of cannabis use patterns and problems, motivations for using cannabis, and perceived cannabis use norms among close friends and peers with cannabis self-concept. Results indicated that participants reported having used cannabis on an average of 17.9 days of the previous month. Correlational analyses showed that cannabis self-concept was positively and significantly associated with days of cannabis use (p < 0.01), cannabis problem severity (p < 0.01), the coping motive (p < 0.01), the social motive (p < 0.01), the enhancement motive (p < 0.01), descriptive norms for close friends (p < 0.01), descriptive norms for peers (p < 0.01) and with using cannabis alone (p < 0.01). Multivariate analyses showed that while cannabis self-concept was positively and significantly associated with days of cannabis use (p < 0.001), cannabis problem severity (p = 0.001), the social motive (p < 0.001) and the enhancement motive (p = 0.010), it was negatively and significantly associated with desire to reduce cannabis use (p = 0.012).

Take away: This study found that cannabis use, problems, social motives, enhancement motives, and using alone were significantly associated with cannabis self-concept.

Blevins, C. E., Abrantes, A. M., Anderson, B. J., Caviness, C. M., Herman, D. S., & Stein, M. D. (2017). Identity as a cannabis user is related to problematic patterns of consumption among emerging adults. Addictive behaviors.

Marijuana accessibility and permissibility during use predicts lapse during attempted abstinence among young adults

It has been documented that young adults using marijuana heavily often try to quit on their own. A new study aimed at identifying momentary experiences during marijuana use that could help in predicting lapse when young adults subsequently attempt abstinence. Participants (N = 34) were young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 who had been using marijuana five or more days per week during the past three months and were planning on quitting, willing to abstain for two weeks, and were not currently in treatment. Participants completed a survey, which included a series of questions and questionnaires related to marijuana use, expectancies and motives as well as demographic characteristics. Participants also completed ecological momentary assessments (EMA) on their smartphones several times per day for two weeks prior to attempting abstinence as well as two weeks during the attempt. EMA reports assessed positive and negative affect, craving, accessibility, situational permissibility, marijuana use, as well as momentary confidence and motivation to abstain. The authors examined baseline characteristics and EMA data in relation to whether lapse occurred during attempted abstinence. Results indicated that almost 3 in 4 participants (73.5%) lapsed during attempted abstinence from marijuana. In comparison to those who reported no lapse, participants who lapsed had lower Severity of Dependence Scale (SDS) scores, negative effect expectancies, perceived family support, and confidence not to use marijuana at baseline. Furthermore, EMA use period variables including greater percent of days with marijuana use, reports of marijuana being easy to get, and reports of being in a situation permitting use were all associated with lapse. Multivariable regressions also showed that together, negative effect expectancies, perceived family support, confidence not to use, and situational permissibility were highly accurate in predicting lapse. Lastly, confidence to abstain significantly predicted lapse such that for each 1-point increase on the confidence scale, participants were 76% less likely to lapse.

Take away: This study found that negative effect expectancies, perceived family support, confidence to abstain, and situational permissibility during use were highly accurate in predicting lapse during attempted abstinence among young adults.

Shrier, L. A., Sarda, V., Jonestrask, C., & Harris, S. K. (2017). Momentary factors during marijuana use as predictors of lapse during attempted abstinence in young adults. Addictive behaviors.

Binge drinking during adolescence linked with harmful consequences on sleep quality in young adulthood

Little research has explored the effects of a history of adolescent binge drinking on sleep in young adulthood in high-risk minority populations. A new study sought to quantify sleep disturbance and examined the effect of binge drinking on sleep in Mexican Americans and American Indians. Participants (N = 800) were local community individuals of Mexican American and American Indian descent who were between the ages of 18 to 30 years. Participants completed a screening questionnaire followed by an interview. The questionnaire collected information related to demographics, personal medical history, ethnicity, and current and past substance use history, including adolescent binge drinking. The interview included a Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA), which was used for DSM diagnoses. Lastly, sleep quality was quantified using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). The authors used linear regression models as well as logistic regression to determine the relationships between binge drinking and the PSQI variables. Results indicated that female participants were significantly more likely to wake up at night, report more bad dreams, and were more likely to have a later habitual bedtime. On the other hand, male participants were significantly more likely to report problems with breathing and snoring (all p’s < 0.05). Increase in age was associated with a greater likelihood to snore or cough (p < 0.05), a decrease in the number of hours spent in bed (p < 0.02), and later evening bedtimes (p > 0.02). Furthermore, American Indian participants reported significantly longer sleep latencies and sleep durations, more hours spent in bed, and more trouble with coughing and snoring while Mexican American participants reported later bedtimes (all p’s < 0.05). In addition, a history of adolescent regular binge drinking was found to be significantly associated with current responses on the PSQI. Binge drinkers had significantly longer sleep latencies, reported more problems with breathing and bad dreams, and had an overall higher PSQI total score (all p’s < 0.05).

Take away: This study found gender, ethnic group and history of binge drinking to be associated with several items on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) among young adults.

Ehlers, C. L., Wills, D., & Gilder, D. A. (2018). A history of binge drinking during adolescence is associated with poorer sleep quality in young adult Mexican Americans and American Indians. Psychopharmacology, 1-8.

Latest Research (April 3 – April 9)

*Click on the article title to open link to full research article.

Binge drinking and use of marijuana and nonmedical prescription drugs predict alcohol mixed with energy drink use in young adulthood

It has been documented that alcohol mixed with energy drink (AmED) use is associated with negative consequences such as hazardous alcohol use and driving under the influence. A new study examined patterns of AmED use during adolescence to young adulthood with the purpose of assessing age differences in AmED use. The sample (n = 2222) consisted of respondents between the ages of 18 to 30 years who had participated in the Monitoring the Future panel study from 2012 to 2015. Participants included in the sample responded to the AmED measures at least once from ages 18 through 29/30. They responded to questions regarding AmED use in the past 12 months, past 30-day cigarette smoking, past two-week binge drinking, past-year marijuana use, past-year nonmedical prescription drug use, and past-year illicit substance use other than marijuana along with demographics and college attendance. The authors used multiple logistic regression using generalized estimating equations (GEE) to model past-year AmED prevalence across age and other covariates. Results showed that about 45% of respondents indicated past-year AmED use during the study period. AmED use rapidly increased from 25.9% at age 18 to 43.5% at age 21/22 and then declined through later young adulthood reaching 32.0% at age 29/30. Furthermore, there were statistically significant positive linear and negative quadratic trends with respect to the correlation between age of respondent and past-year AmED use. In addition, significantly higher odds of AmED use were observed for respondents who had at least one parent who graduated from college in comparison to having no parents with a college degree, were full-time students at a four-year college at age 19/20 in comparison to not being a full-time student, and who, at age 18, reported binge drinking, marijuana use, or nonmedical prescription drug use. While AmED prevalence among college attenders rose from a modeled 21% at age 18 to 45% at ages 23/24 and 25/26, and then dropped to 33% by age 29/30, modeled AmED prevalence for non-college attenders rose from 26% at age 18 to approximately 35% at age 23/24, and then decreased to 29% by age 29/30.

Take away: Alcohol mixed with energy drink (AmED) use peaked at ages 21 to 24 years with a rate of 43.5%. In addition, full-time four-year college students reached higher levels of AmED use than non-college students.

Patrick, M. E., Veliz, P., Linden-Carmichael, A., & Terry-McElrath, Y. M. (2018). Alcohol mixed with energy drink use during young adulthood. Addictive Behaviors.

Study finds that high prevalence of riding with an impaired peer or older adult driver occurs mostly with alcohol- or marijuana-impaired peer drivers

A new study examined the prevalence and covariates among emerging adults of riding with an impaired peer or older adult driver (RWI) because of marijuana, alcohol, or illicit drugs. The sample consisted of respondents from Wave 4 (n = 2,085) and Wave 5 (n = 2,116) of the NEXT Generation Health Study, collected one year and two years after high school. Respondents were asked a series of questions related to riding with alcohol-/drug-impaired drivers heavy episodic drinking, marijuana use, environmental status variables such as current residence, school status, and work status as well as demographics. The authors used multinomial logistic regressions estimate the bivariate associations of Wave 5 RWI with each covariate (i.e., substance-specific RWI, Wave 4 RWI, Wave 5 heavy episodic drinking, marijuana use, and school/residence/work status). Results showed that Wave 4 RWI increased the likelihood of RWI at Wave 5 with an alcohol-impaired peer driver by 4.28 times (p < .001), an alcohol-impaired older adult driver by 2.69 times (p = .04), a marijuana-impaired peer driver by 2.34 times (p < .001), and a marijuana-impaired older adult driver by 3.56 times (p = .01). On the other hand, overall Wave 4 RWI was not associated with illicit drugs-specific RWI at Wave 5. That is, at Wave 5, 33% of participants reported RWI in the past year, including riding with alcohol- (21%), marijuana- (17%), and illicit drugs- (5%) impaired peer drivers and alcohol- (2%), marijuana- (4%), and illicit drugs- (0.7%) impaired older adult drivers. Wave 5 heavy episodic drinking was positively associated with Wave 5 peer alcohol-related RWI and peer/older adult marijuana-related RWI. Wave 5 marijuana use was positively associated with Wave 5 peer alcohol-related RWI, peer/older adult marijuana-related, and peer/older adult illicit drugs-related RWI. With respect to attending college, those not attending four-year college were 6.85 (p = .05) and those attending community college or technical schools were 11.50 (p = .02) times as likely to ride with an illicit drugs-impaired peer driver. Otherwise, residence and school status variables were not significantly associated with either RWI.

Take away: This study found that 33% of participants reported riding with an impaired peer or older adult driver (RWI) at least once in the past year and that participants reported high rates of past-year RWI with impaired peers relative to impaired older adult drivers.

Li, K., Ochoa, E., Vaca, F. E., & Simons-Morton, B. (2018). Emerging Adults Riding With Marijuana-, Alcohol-, or Illicit Drug–Impaired Peer and Older Drivers. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs79(2), 277-285.

Among college students, anxiety sensitivity may be a risk factor for alcohol-related behaviors indirectly through negative urgency

Previous research has documented the relationship between anxiety sensitivity (AS) and problematic alcohol-related behaviors. A new study examined whether AS would exert an indirect effect on alcohol-related behaviors (i.e., sex-related alcohol negative con- sequences, negative consequences of alcohol use, and alcohol-related protective behavioral strategies) through negative urgency. Participants (N = 507) were college students attending a large southwestern university who reported at least one heavy episodic drinking (HED) event in the previous month and at least one lifetime sexual partner. Participants completed an online survey which included a series of questionnaires and questions related to demographics, alcohol use, anxiety sensitivity, impulsive behavior, sex-related alcohol negative consequences, negative consequences of alcohol use, and protective behavioral strategies (PBS). The authors used descriptive analyses and regression analyses using bootstrapping techniques to test for both direct and indirect effects of the variables. Results indicated that AS and negative urgency were positively correlated (p < .001). AS was positively related to sex-related alcohol negative consequences (p = .020) and negative consequences of alcohol use (p = .041). Negative urgency was positively correlated with sex-related alcohol negative consequences (p < .001) and negative consequences of alcohol use (p < .001) and negatively correlated with PBS (p = .018). Sex-related alcohol negative consequences and negative consequences of alcohol use were positively correlated (p < .001), and both were negatively correlated with PBS (p = .016 and p = .017, respectively). Furthermore, the independent indirect effect of AS on sex-related alcohol negative consequences through negative urgency was significant (26%). Specifically, greater AS was significantly associated with increased negative urgency, which was subsequently associated with increased sex-related alcohol negative consequences. Similarly, the independent indirect effect of AS on negative consequences of alcohol use through negative urgency was significant (40%). That is, greater AS was significantly associated with increased negative urgency, which was subsequently associated with the endorsement of negative consequences of alcohol use. Lastly, the independent indirect effect of AS on PBS through negative urgency was significant. Such that greater AS was significantly associated with increased negative urgency, which was subsequently associated with fewer PBS.

Take away: While anxiety sensitivity (AS) was not directly related to alcohol-related behaviors after accounting for negative urgency, AS did yield a significant indirect effect through negative urgency for sex-related alcohol negative consequences, negative consequences of alcohol use, and alcohol-related protective behavioral strategies.

Kauffman, B. Y., Garey, L., Paulus, D. J., Jardin, C., Viana, A. G., Neighbors, C., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2018). Anxiety Sensitivity in Association With Alcohol-Related Behaviors Among College Students: The Role of Negative Urgency. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs79(2), 269-276.

Latest Research (March 27 – April 2)

*Click on the article title to open link to full research article.

Study finds being in a committed relationship as a protective factor for drunkenness among undergraduate college students

A new study examined whether being in a romantic relationship is associated with alcohol use (i.e., amount and frequency of drinking, binge drinking, and drunkenness) and negative consequences (i.e., having a hangover, missing class, getting behind in school work, doing something that was later regretted, forgetting where they were/what they did, having unplanned sex, and getting hurt/injured). Participants (N = 572) were undergraduate students attending a Midwestern University. Participants completed an online survey, which included a series of questions related to drinking behaviors, negative consequences of drinking, relationship status and demographics. The authors used t-tests to explore drinking behaviors by gender as well as regression models for further data analysis. Results indicated that in comparison to those in a committed relationship, single men reported consuming a higher average number of drinks (p < .007), and more frequently feeling drunk (p < .02) and drinking to get drunk (p < .02). Similarly, single women reported consuming a higher average number of drinks (p < .039) and more frequently feeling drunk (p < .006) as well as drinking to get drunk (p < .001) than participant women who were in a committed relationship. On the other hand, for both men and women participants, drinking days per month and binge drinking did not significantly vary by relationship status. With respect to negative drinking outcomes, men and women participants differed in how frequently they experienced hangovers, with men reporting a higher average frequency than women (p < .001). In addition, single men more frequently reported doing something that was later regretted. As for women and negative outcomes, single women reported more frequently experiencing feeling hungover (p < .001), missing class (p < .003), getting behind in school work (p < .000), doing something that was later regretted (p < .000), forgetting where they were or what they did (p < .000), engaging in unplanned sexual activity (p < .000), and getting hurt or injured (p < .017) in comparison to women in committed relationships.

Take away: This study found that men in a committed relationship were only less likely to report doing something that was later regretted, while women in committed relationships were less likely to experience all negative outcomes of drinking.

Pedersen, D. E., & Pithey, K. P. (2018). Romantic relationships, college student alcohol use, and negative consequences of drinking. The Social Science Journal.

Alcohol-induced amnesia moderates the link between personalized feedback intervention and alcohol-related consequences among college students

A new study evaluated alcohol-induced amnesia (“blackout”) as a moderator of brief intervention effect on (1) alcohol-related consequences and (2) the proposed intervention mediators, protective behavioral strategies and peak blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Participants (N = 198) were college students who had reported alcohol use in a typical week. Participants completed assessments at baseline as well as at one-month follow-up. They were also randomized during an intervention trial to assessment only (AO) or personalized feedback intervention (PFI). Participants completed a series of measures and assessments including demographics, the Daily Drinking Questionnaire (DDQ), which assessed alcohol use, the Brief Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire (BYAACQ), which assessed alcohol-related consequences, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), and the Protective Behavioral Strategies Scale, which measures behaviors aimed at reducing alcohol-related consequences while drinking. The authors used hierarchical regression to examine the direct and indirect intervention effects. Results indicated that 44% of participants reported alcohol-induced amnesia in the past month. With respect to direct intervention effects, the interaction between group and alcohol-induced amnesia was a significant predictor of alcohol-related consequences at one-month follow-up (p = .01). Specifically, participants who experienced alcohol-induced amnesia in the past month demonstrated a decrease in alcohol-related consequences as a result of the intervention (p = .03), while those who denied past-month alcohol-induced amnesia did not (p = .88). With respect to indirect intervention effects, inclusion in the PFI group was associated with fewer alcohol-related consequences at one-month follow-up (p < .001), but increased use of protective behavioral strategies at one-month follow-up was not (p = .62). There was also an indirect group effect on alcohol-related consequences through peak BAC only among those who experienced alcohol-related amnesia at baseline.

Take away: This study found that alcohol-induced amnesia moderated the direct intervention effect as well as the indirect intervention effect on alcohol-related consequences.

Miller, M. B., DiBello, A. M., Meier, E., Leavens, E. L., Merrill, J. E., Carey, K. B., & Leffingwell, T. R. (2018). Alcohol-Induced Amnesia and Personalized Drinking Feedback: Blackouts Predict Intervention Response. Behavior Therapy.

Mindfulness disrupts the link between cue-induced craving and alcohol demand among college students

Previous research has suggested that trait mindfulness may buffer the effects of internal states of craving on drinking decisions. A new study examined whether cue-induced cravings are associated with increased alcohol demand, an effect that would be weakened among drinkers who have higher levels of mindfulness. Participants (N = 69) were student drinkers attending an urban university campus. Participants completed a series of measures and assessments as well as an alcohol purchase task. Alcohol craving was measured using an alcohol craving questionnaire and mindfulness was measured using the Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale (PHLMS). As for the Alcohol Purchase Task (APT), it was used to measure demand for alcohol. The authors used analyses of variance (ANOVAs) for data analysis. Results showed that participants exhibited significant increases in craving, following exposure to alcohol cues, but not following exposure to neutral cues (p < 0.001). Furthermore, elevated alcohol cue-induced craving was related to higher demand for alcohol as measured by APT intensity, (p < 0.006). The awareness subscale of the PHLMS yielded only a marginally significant effect as a predictor of alcohol demand (p= 0.089). On the other hand, there was a significant interaction effect between the acceptance sub scale and cue-induced craving on APT breakpoint (p < 0.031). Such findings revealed that acceptance buffered the effects of cue-induced craving on APT breakpoint.

Take away: This study found that cue-induced craving was related to higher alcohol demand. In addition, the acceptance component of mindfulness buffered the effects of cue-induced craving on alcohol demand.

Hochster, A., Block-Lerner, J., Marks, D. R., & Erblich, J. (2018). Mindfulness buffers the effects of cue-induced craving on alcohol demand in college drinkers. Addictive Behaviors.

Latest Research (March 20 – March 26)

*Click on the article title to open link to full research article.

Study identifies three profiles of alcohol use and symptoms of common mental health disorders among college students

A new study examined how profiles of alcohol use and symptoms of common mental health disorders (i.e., depression and PTSD) influenced the perceived need for and actual seeking of different types of treatment (for alcohol vs. psychological distress) in college students. Participants (N = 164) were undergraduate college students attending a Northeastern university. Participants were assessed between 2009 and 2015 and participated in interviews and self-report measures, which included the following. Trauma and PTSD was assessed via interview using the Life Events Checklist (LEC) and the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for the DSM IV. Depression was assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 (PHQ-8). Alcohol Use was assessed using the Daily Drinking Questionnaire (DDQ). Drinking motives (i.e., Coping, Conformity, Enhancement and Social Reinforcement) were assessed using the Drinking Motives Questionnaire (DMQ). Alcohol-related problems were assessed using the Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire (YAACQ).Participants were also asked about their expectancies for alcohol’s effects, readiness to change and their interest in seeking psychological services. The authors categorized participants into different symptom profiles using model-based clustering and compared these profiles on a variety of variables. Results showed that 26% of participants exhibited a clinical elevation (PHQ score greater than 10) in depressive symptoms, 17% met diagnostic criteria for PTSD, and 70% reported weekly drinking above the recommended cutoffs per week. After the examination of symptoms across profiles, the authors classified them as (1) Low Risk Drinking, (2) Concomitant Drinking, and (3) Heavy Drinking. There was a significant difference across profiles in terms of sex (p < .05), with more women than men in the Concomitant profile (77% women) than in the Low Risk (47% women) and Heavy Drinking (48% women) profiles. The Concomitant profile exhibited significantly more depressive symptoms and PTSD symptoms than both the Heavy Drinking and Low Risk groups. Furthermore, the Heavy Drinking profile endorsed consuming more drinks per week and binging more often than the Low Risk group. In addition, the Concomitant group endorsed significantly more alcohol-related consequences than the Low Risk group. Lastly, when comparing the three profiles in terms of members’ endorsement of questions regarding treatment services, it was found that profiles differed. Specifically, while the Concomitant and Heavy Drinking profiles reported similar responses, a lower percentage of the Concomitant group responded “no” to being in psychological distress over the past four weeks and that they have been more likely to know where to locate campus resources for distress.

Take away: This study yielded three profiles of alcohol use and symptoms of common mental health disorders: Low Risk, Concomitant, and Heavy Drinking. Participants in these groups significantly differed in alcohol consumption, alcohol-related problems, and prior engagement in treatment.
Borsari, B., Yalch, M. M., Pedrelli, P., Radomski, S., Bachrach, R. L., & Read, J. P. (2018). Associations among Trauma, Depression, and Alcohol Use Profiles and Treatment Motivation and Engagement in College Students. Journal of American College Health, (just-accepted), 1-25.

Study provides support for campus-led alcohol-free programming as potential to reduce alcohol consumption among college students

Campus-led alcohol-free programming, which provides students with attractive leisure alternatives to drinking on weekend nights is a strategy used by many colleges. A new study aimed at extending a previous study that found that students drank less on weekend nights they attended LateNight Penn State (LNPS) activities during their first semester of college. Participants (N = 730) were students attending a large Northeastern university. Longitudinal data was collected during seven semesters as participants completed daily diary surveys, which asked about their daily activities (i.e., attending LNPS, going out, or staying in) and substance use (i.e., total number of drinks, binge/high intensity drinking, and any illegal substance use. The authors used generalized linear mixed models to estimate alcohol and illegal substance use on weekend days as a function of LNPS attendance, gender, legal drinking status, and day of the weekend. Results showed that participants consumed fewer drinks and had lower odds of any drinking and binge drinking on weekend days they attended LNPS compared to weekend days they went out. Moreover, participants who attended LNPS more frequently consumed fewer drinks and had fewer any drinking and binge drinking days across the semesters. Gender differences revealed that males consumed more drinks on the average weekend day, but no such differences were found in the likelihood of any drinking or binge drinking.  Furthermore, participants aged 21 or older consumed more drinks on the average weekend day and had more any drinking and binge drinking weekend days than underage participants. General levels of alcohol use were higher on Fridays and Saturdays than on Thursdays. Also, participants were less likely to engage in high-intensity drinking or illegal substance use on weekend days they attended LNPS in comparison to weekend days they went out. Participants who attended LNPS more frequently across the semesters in college reported fewer high-intensity drinking and illegal substance use days. Lastly, legal drinking status moderated the association between LNPS attendance and alcohol and illegal substance use such that levels of use were lowest for participants who were underage on weekend days they attended LNPS.

Take away: Participants who attended LNPS used alcohol and illegal substances less in general and less on days they participated in the program compared to days they where they did not participate.

Layland, E. K., Calhoun, B. H., Russell, M. A., & Maggs, J. L. (2018). Is alcohol and other substance use reduced when college students attend alcohol-free programs? Evidence from a measurement burst design before and after legal drinking age. Prevention science, 1-11.

Working memory moderates the link between perceived peer drinking norms and alcohol use among college students

A new study examined whether working memory, as measured by memory span tasks, moderates the relationship between perceived drinking norms and alcohol use. Participants (N = 97) were undergraduate college students who reported drinking at least once over the past month. Participants completed computer tasks that were used to assess working memory and included both verbal and visual tasks. Participants also completed a series of questionnaires about demographic information, drinking behavior using the Daily Drinking Questionnaire (DDQ), general health behavior, personality characteristics, and perceptions of normative peer alcohol use using the Drinking Norms Rating Form (DNRF). The authors used hierarchical linear regression analyses to examine whether working memory moderated the relationship between perceived drinking norms and heavy drinking episodes as well as number of drinking days in the past month. Results indicated that for frequency of drinking, there was a significant interaction between working memory and norms (p < 0.01), such that norms were a significant predictor of frequency of drinking only for those low (p < 0.001) and at the mean level (p < 0.001) of working memory but not those high (p = 0.68) in working memory. Similarly, the interaction between norms and heavy drinking episodes was significant (p < 0.05) such that norms significantly predicted heavy drinking episodes for individuals at low (p < 0.001) and mean levels (p < 0.01) of working memory, but not for those high in working memory (p = 0.75).

Take away: Both norms and working memory were significant predictors of both frequency of drinking and number of heavy drinking episodes in the past month.

Tahaney, K. D., & Palfai, T. P. (2018). Working memory moderates the association between perceived norms and heavy episodic drinking among college students. Addictive behaviors81, 46-49.

Latest Research (March 13 – March 19)

*Click on the article title to open link to full research article.

Study identifies five themes providing insight into college students’ perceptions of links between substance use and mental health 

While it has been agreed upon among researchers that mental health concerns and substance use are often interrelated, it is unclear whether university students understand this connection. A new study explored college student’s perceived links between substance use and mental health. Participants (N = 24) attended a private university and participated in three semi-structured focus groups. The authors used standard guidelines for thematic analysis as their analytic technique. This included studying all data items, generating organizational codes, identifying and reviewing themes, and defining and naming themes. Results indicated that participants reported five themes along with several subthemes regarding how substance use and mental health can be related. The themes and subthemes are as follows. (1) Students use substances to cope with mental health issues, (2) substance use can lead to mental health issues, (3) links between mental health and substance use are cyclical, and (4) substance use is an aspect or indicator of mental health, (5) substance use and mental health are not always linked. The subthemes for theme 1 include (a) using substances to cope is normative (i.e., students agreed that drinking alcohol and using other substances was a normal part of college life and was bound to happen due to the stressors that they face in college), (b) using substances to cope is easy (i.e., students explained the widespread use of substances to cope is rising due to ease of access), and (c) using substances to cope is effective (i.e., students noted that substances are sometimes used as an adaptive coping behavior). The subthemes for theme 2 include (a) substance use increases vulnerability for mental health issues (i.e., students defined ways in which substance use could precipitate a mental health problem or exacerbate an existing problem), (b) substance use can lead to addiction (i.e., students expressed concerns about how substance use that was currently not problematic could lead to substance use disorders), and (c) substance use amplifies negative emotions (i.e., students reported instances where alcohol reduced their ability to cope with emotions or hindered their control over their emotions).

Take away: Through conducting focus group discussions with college students, this study identified five themes regarding college students’ perceived links between substance use and mental health.
Hudson, A., Thompson, K., MacNevin, P. D., Ivany, M., Teehan, M., Stuart, H., & Stewart, S. H. (2018). University Students’ Perceptions of Links Between Substance Use and Mental Health: A Qualitative Focus Group Study. Emerging Adulthood, 2167696817748106.

Facets of mindfulness significantly predict recent alcohol-related problems among college students

A new study explored the underlying connections between trait (dispositional) mindfulness, alcohol use, negative emotion (anxiety, depression), and positive emotion (subjective happiness). Participants (N = 203) were college students attending a southeastern university. Participants completed a series of measures and questionnaires including the following. Mindfulness and the presence of specific mindfulness skills were assessed using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS-T) and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). Alcohol-related consequences were assessed with the Drinker Inventory of Consequences (DrInC). Lastly, positive and negative emotions were assessed using the Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) and the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scales (DASS). First, the authors calculated Pearson correlations to assess the relationships between all of the above variables. It was found that dispositional mindfulness was moderately-to-strongly and positively related to various facets of mindfulness, such as mindful observation, Acting with Awareness and subjective happiness. In contrast, dispositional mindfulness was negatively related to the experiences of alcohol-related problems, anxiety, and moderate depression. Participants were then divided into two groups, based on their MAAS-T scores, “low mindfulness group” and “high mindfulness group”. The authors conducted a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to examine the differences between both groups and their experiences of depression, anxiety and subjective happiness. Results showed that participants in the low mindfulness group reported significantly higher levels of anxiety in comparison to those in the high mindfulness group. Furthermore, participants in the high mindfulness group reported similar levels of subjective happiness and depression in comparison to those in the low mindfulness group. With respect to alcohol-related problems, facets of mindfulness accounted for a significant 9.3% of the variability in recently experiencing alcohol-related problems (p = .002). More specifically, Acting with Awareness was a negative predictor of problems such that as awareness of one’s current actions decreases, alcohol-related problems increase. On the other hand, non-judging was a positive predictor of problems such that as judgment of one’s experiences decreases, alcohol-related problems increase.

Take away: This study found that participants high in mindfulness reported significantly higher feelings of subjective happiness, and significantly lower feelings of depression and anxiety, than those low in mindfulness. In addition, facets of mindfulness significantly predicted recent alcohol-related problems.

Brooks, J. J., Carter, A., McMillen, N., & Couillou, R. J. “It’s Complicated”: Exploring the Mindfulness-Alcohol Use Connection in Undergraduate Students. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 1-13.

Increased alcohol consumption linked with greater use of sexual assault protective behavioral strategies

A new study sought to extend previous research related to protective behavioral strategies (PBS) and drinking by examining daily associations between alcohol consumption and sexual assault PBS (e.g., letting others know one’s whereabouts) versus stopping or limiting drinking PBS (e.g., planning to stop drinking at a predetermined time) and manner of drinking PBS (e.g., avoiding mixing alcohol types). Participants (N = 69) were college women attending a northeastern university. After completing a required training, participants took part in a 14-day diary protocol in which they completed a short survey on a mobile application each morning. The survey included a series of questions and measures regarding their drinking and PBS use the previous day. Sexual assault PBS was assessed using items, such as “had a trusted friend walk home with me,” adapted from the Dating Self-Protection Against Rape Scale (DSPARS). Stopping or limiting drinking PBS included items such as “determined in advance not to exceed a set number of drinks,” “alternated alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks,” and “stopped drinking at a predetermined time.” Manner of drinking PBS included items such as “avoided mixing different types of alcohol” and “avoided trying to keep up with or out-drink others.” The authors used multilevel modeling to examine associations between alcohol consumption and PBS types across days and PBS use. Results showed that there was a positive between-person association between sexual assault PBS and drinking (p = .03), indicating that on average, participants who used more sexual assault PBS consumed more drinks. In contrast, there was a negative between-person association between stopping or limiting drinking PBS and drinking (p = .04), indicating that on average, participants who used more stopping or limiting drinking PBS, consumed fewer drinks. Furthermore, there was a negative between-person association between manner of drinking PBS and drinking (p = .01). Similarly, the within-person association between sexual assault PBS and drinking was positive (p = .03), indicating that on days when participants used more than their average number of sexual assault PBS, they consumed more drinks. In contrast, there was a negative within-person association between stopping or limiting drinking PBS and drinking (p = .004), indicating that participants consumed fewer drinks on days when they used more than their average number of stopping or limiting drinking PBS. In addition, there was a negative within-person association between manner of drinking PBS and drinking (p = .01).

Take away: Among college women, alcohol consumption increased with greater use of sexual assault PBS while it decreased with greater use of stopping or limiting drinking and manner of drinking PBS.

Sell, N. M., Turrisi, R., Scaglione, N. M., Cleveland, M. J., & Mallett, K. A. (2018). Alcohol Consumption and Use of Sexual Assault and Drinking Protective Behavioral Strategies: A Diary Study. Psychology of Women Quarterly42(1), 62-71.

Latest Research (March 6 – March 12)

*Click on the article title to open link to full research article.

Study finds college student polytobacco users as likely as cigarette-only users to intend to quit smoking

A new study examined the association of intention to quit smoking cigarettes (ITQS) with polytobacco use status, controlling for tobacco product use frequency and cigarettes per day (CPD). Data was collected from a larger study conducted at a large public university in the Southeastern U.S. and included a sample of current cigarette smokers (n = 133). Participants completed an online survey, which included a series of questions related to demographic and personal characteristics, current cigarette and polytobacco use, frequency of tobacco product use and cigarette smoking intensity, and intention to quit smoking. The authors used descriptive analyses, bivariate analysis of ITQS using chi-square tests and Fisher’s test as well as logistic regression to assess predictors of intention to quit smoking cigarettes. Results showed that more than 54.9% of participants reported that they intended to quit smoking within the next 6 months. Furthermore, 44.4% reported using at least one form of tobacco in addition to cigarettes. Approximately 33.1% used at least one form of tobacco product 1 to 9 days per month; 32.3% used at least one form of tobacco product 10 to 29 days per month; and 34.6% used at least one form of tobacco product daily. Sex, academic status, frequency of tobacco product use and smoking intensity were found to be significant predictors of intention to quit smoking cigarettes (p = .002). However, intention to quit smoking was not predicted or related to polytobacco use status. In addition, undergraduate participants were 214% more likely to intend to quit than graduate participants (p = .029). Daily tobacco users were 399% more likely to indicate intention to quit smoking cigarettes (p = .004), and those who used 10 to 29 days in the last month were 247% more likely to intend to quit (p = .011) in comparison with those who used tobacco product(s) on 1 to 9 days in the last month. Moreover, higher intensity smokers (more than 10 CPD) were 71% less likely than lower intensity smokers (less than 10 CPD) to report intention to quit smoking cigarettes (p = .025).

Take away: Participants who were polytobacco users were as likely as cigarette-only users to intend to quit smoking cigarettes. Those who indicated the highest likelihood to intend to quit smoking were lower intensity smokers who used tobacco frequently.

Butler, K. M., Ickes, M. J., Rayens, M. K., Wiggins, A. T., Ashford, K., & Hahn, E. J. (2018). Intention to quit smoking and polytobacco use among college student smokers. Preventive Medicine Reports.

Participation in traditional cultural activities linked with less substance use among Native American college students

Little research has been documented regarding substance use among Native American college students. A new study examined alcohol, tobacco, and other substance use and their relation to gender, institution, age, and cultural involvement among Native American college students. Participants (N = 347) were Native American community college and university students living in a Southwest city. Participants completed an online survey, which included a series of questions related past-month and lifetime substance use including alcohol use, drug use, tobacco use and problematic substance use using the CAGE-AID screen. It also included questions related to student involvement in cultural activities including traditional spiritual activities and enculturation, i.e. participation in traditional activities and connection to home reservation or tribal lands. Results showed that in the past month, 43% of participants drank alcohol and of those participants, 61% reported at least one binge drinking episode. Furthermore, 23% had used other substances and the most commonly used ones were marijuana (14%), sedatives/sleeping pills (5%) and prescription opioids for non-medical reasons (4%). The smoking rate was 13% and included those who smoked some days and those who smoked everyday. With respect to lifetime substance use, 22% of participants had used a substance more then 100 times in their lives and 38% had scores on the CAGE-AID that indicated lifetime history of problematic substance use. Moreover, males, community college students and participants aged 26 years and older were significantly more likely than their counterparts to have a positive CAGE-AID score. In addition, there were lower rates of past-month alcohol and substance use among participants who spoke their tribe’s language, rated traditional spiritual values as important, and participated in their tribe’s traditional ceremonies and dances compared to participants who did not.

Take away: This study found that Native American college students who spoke their tribe’s language, rated traditional spiritual values as important, and participated in their tribe’s traditional ceremonies and dances, used alcohol and other substances at a lower rate then those who did not.

Greenfield, B. L., Venner, K. L., Tonigan, J. S., Honeyestewa, M., Hubbell, H., & Bluehorse, D. (2018). Low rates of alcohol and tobacco use, strong cultural ties for Native American college students in the Southwest. Addictive Behaviors.

Content and genre of TV exposure significantly linked with risky sexual and alcohol experiences among emerging adults

A new study examined whether heavy exposure to sexual and alcohol content on fictional and reality TV programs would be associated with emerging adults’ risky sexual and alcohol experiences. Participants (N = 320) were undergraduate students between the ages of 18 to 25 years who were attending a large, public university in the West Coast. Participants completed online surveys, which included a series of questions regarding TV exposure, i.e. the amount of sexual and alcohol content on popular TV programs and frequency of watching TV programs, as well as harmful drinking habits, drinking frequency and amount, alcohol dependency and negative drinking consequences. The authors used Path analysis with sequential multiple regressions for data analysis. Results showed that being less religious and believing friends approved of drinking were significantly associated with more harmful drinking. Furthermore, having a mother with more drinking experience was associated with more intoxicated sex, as was being more sexually experienced in general. In addition, exposure to reality TV programs with strong, concurrent sexual and alcohol themes was significantly associated with harmful drinking (p = .03), while perceiving reality TV as realistic was only marginally associated with harmful drinking (p = .06). The total effect of exposure to reality TV with concurrent sexual and alcohol themes on intoxicated sex was found to be only marginally significant (p = .05). On the other hand, the total effect of perceived realism of reality TV on intoxicated sex was significant (p = .01), and the direct effect remained significant after including the indirect effect through problem drinking.

Take away: Undergraduate students with heavier exposure to reality TV programs that were perceived as containing strong, concurrent sexual and alcohol themes, reported engaging in more harmful drinking habits, which was in turn associated with more frequent sexual behaviors while intoxicated or high.

Kim, J. L., Schooler, D. E., Lazaro, S. K., & Weiss, J. (2018). Brief Report: Watching Reality TV Programs With Concurrent Sexual and Alcohol Themes Is Associated With Risky Drinking and Sexual Experiences. Emerging Adulthood, 2167696818754920.

Latest Research (February 27 – March 5)

*Click on the article title to open link to full research article.

Despite minimal discomfort, college students complete web-based personalized feedback interventions for alcohol and sexual assault as intended

A new study explored individual engagement and comfort during a web-based personalized feedback intervention for alcohol and sexual assault risk reduction (SARR). Participants (N = 264) were college women between the ages of 18 to 20 years and reported engaging in heavy episodic drinking in the past month. Participants completed a survey and were randomly assigned to either a control condition (minimal assessment or full assessment control), or an intervention condition (alcohol, SARR or alcohol + SARR intervention). The survey and interventions measured the following. Engagement was measured in terms of intervention completion, time and distraction using a post-intervention survey. Comfort was measured by asking participants how comfortable they were post-intervention. Context was assessed by asking participants to describe the setting in which they participated and whether they were currently under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other substances. Sexual assault since age 14 was assessed using the Sexual Experiences Survey. Lastly, frequency of heavy episodic drinking (HED) was measured by asking participants about frequency of HED in the past month. The alcohol intervention included personalized normative feedback and alcohol education, the SARR intervention included psycho-education and personalized feedback related to sexual assault and the alcohol + SARR intervention included elements of both. The authors used chi-square tests and between-group analyses of variance (ANOVAs) to evaluate group differences. Results showed no significant correlations among time spent on the intervention, distraction and comfort and no differences in intervention completion by condition (p = .266). In comparison to the minimal assessment, SARR, and combined condition, participants in the alcohol intervention reported less comfort (p = 0.10). Participants with a sexual assault history reported more comfort in the SARR intervention than the alcohol or full assessment conditions as well as more comfort in the minimal assessment than the alcohol intervention (p = .020). In contrast, participants who reported drinking at least once a week were least comfortable in the alcohol condition. While setting was not associated with differences in comfort (p = .383), it was associated with changes in distraction. Finally, substance use was not associated with distraction (p = .108) or comfort (p = .144).

Take away: The majority of participants completed the intervention in a reasonable amount of time, in private and without consuming substances. While participants with sexual assault history were most comfortable in the SARR intervention, participants who engaged in HED were least comfortable in the alcohol intervention condition.

Jaffe, A. E., Bountress, K. E., Metzger, I. W., Maples-Keller, J. L., Pinsky, H. T., George, W. H., & Gilmore, A. K. (2018). Student engagement and comfort during a web-based personalized feedback intervention for alcohol and sexual assault. Addictive Behaviors.

Fraternity residence linked with greater odds of alcohol use disorder symptoms in early midlife

A new study examined how social fraternity involvement in college relates to substance use behaviors and substance use disorder symptoms during young adulthood and early midlife. Baseline data was obtained from samples of 18-year-old high school seniors (n = 15,680) who had participated in the Monitoring the Future study and was continuously obtained using surveys across seven follow-up waves until they were 35 years of age. The surveys included a series of questions regarding demographics, substance use behaviors, binge drinking, cigarette smoking, marijuana use, other illicit drug use, nonmedical prescription drug use, substance use disorder (SUD) symptoms, college student status and fraternity or sorority membership or residence. The authors used logistic regression models to assess how membership in fraternities and sororities between the ages of 19 to 24 was associated with substance use across eight waves between the ages of 18 to 35 and SUD symptoms at age 35. Results showed that male participants who lived for at least one semester in a fraternity house had greater odds of past two-week binge drinking across ages 18 to 35 in comparison to peers who were members but did not live in a fraternity house, who attended college and were not involved in fraternities, and who did not attend college. These participants also had greater odds of past year marijuana use in comparison to peers who attended college but were not involved in fraternities and who did not attend college. They also had greater odds of past year other illicit drug use, but had lower odds of past 30-day cigarette smoking in comparison to males who did not attend college. Similarly, female participants who lived for at least one semester in a sorority house had greater odds of past two-week binge drinking but lower odds of past 30-day cigarette use across ages 18 to 35 compared with their female peers who were only members of sororities, who attended college, and who did not attend college. These participants also had greater odds of past year marijuana use when compared with female participants who did not attend college. Participants who lived for at least one semester in a fraternity house had higher odds of reporting symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) at age 35 in comparison to their peers. Those who lived in a sorority for at least one semester had higher odds of reporting symptoms of AUD and lower odds of other drug use disorder (ODUD) symptoms at age 35 when compared with their peers who did not attend college.

Take away: This study found that participants who had lived for at least one semester in a sorority or fraternity house had higher odds of reporting symptoms of alcohol use disorder during early midlife.

McCabe, S. E., Veliz, P., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2018). How collegiate fraternity and sorority involvement relates to substance use during young adulthood and substance use disorders in early midlife: A national longitudinal study. Journal of Adolescent Health62(3), S35-S43.

Text message intervention shows promise for reducing alcohol consumption among young adults

A new study evaluated the engagement of young adults with a text message intervention, Texting to Reduce Alcohol Consumption 2 (TRAC2), which aims at reducing weekend alcohol consumption. Participants (N = 38) included young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 years who had screened positive for hazardous drinking in an emergency department. At baseline, participants were asked about their demographics, alcohol-related characteristics and substance use. As for the TRAC2, it included pre-weekend goal commitments on drinking limit via ecological momentary assessments (EMA) that were personalized based on participant past 2-week alcohol consumption. It also included within-weekend goal reminders, self-efficacy EMA with support tailored to goal confidence, and maximum weekend alcohol consumption EMA with personalized drinking limit goal feedback. In addition to the goal support features, participants were offered the choice of opting out after each 4-week intervention block. The authors used a variety of methods for data analysis including chi-square tests to examine the associations between drinking behavior and drinking goals being met. Results showed that at baseline, there was a wide range of stages of change, with 38% of participants being pre-contemplative. All participants reported at least one negative consequence related to alcohol consumption in the last 3 months. Furthermore, substance use was common and 26% of participants smoked cigarettes at least daily, 50% reported cannabis use, and 10% used some form of opioid recreationally in the past month. In week 1 of the intervention, 78% of participants reported a plan to drink over the weekend, this decreased to 46% by week 4. These participants reported being willing to commit to the proposed drinking limit goal 96% of weekends. In week 1, the percentage of participants being prompted to commit to a drinking limit goal above the binge threshold was 52%, this decreased to 0% by week 4. Moreover, participants met their goal 89% of the times a goal was committed to. There were lower rates of goal success when participants reported lower confidence in meeting the goal (76%) compared with that when participants reported high confidence in meeting the goal (98%) (p = .001). There were reductions in alcohol consumption from baseline to 3 months, but reductions were not different by length of intervention exposure. Follow-up surveys revealed that there were reductions in maximum drinks consumed over typical weekends and prevalence of binge drinking in all groups exposed to TRAC2. In addition, there were significant reductions in the number of alcohol-related consequences among TRAC2-exposed participants.

Take away: This study found that there was a high level of engagement with a text message intervention, to reduce alcohol consumption, which incorporated adaptive goal support features. In addition, lower confidence in meeting drinking limit goals was associated with a lower probability of goal success.

Suffoletto, B., Chung, T., Muench, F., Monti, P., & Clark, D. B. (2018). A Text Message Intervention with Adaptive Goal Support to Reduce Alcohol Consumption Among Non-Treatment-Seeking Young Adults: Non-Randomized Clinical Trial with Voluntary Length of Enrollment. JMIR mHealth and uHealth6(2), e35.

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