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Heavy, Problematic College Drinking Predicts Increases in Impulsivity

Heavy alcohol use is prevalent among young adults, particularly those in college. As young adults enter early adulthood, typically personality traits will change and individuals will gain reasoning skills. However, it is also possible that young adults can become more impulsive as they age. A recent study observed alcohol use behaviors in college and the relationship that problematic college drinking has with impulsivity.

 

A sample of 458 college students in an introductory psychology course participated in a survey measuring their alcohol use and impulsigenic personality traits, such as tendency to act rashly when emotional (urgency), lack of planning, and lack of perseverance. This sample was surveyed on three separate occasions, each one year after the previous assessment.

 

The results showed that individuals who experienced increased drinking problems over the course of the study were more likely to have increased inpulsigenic traits. This is important because increases in urgency, lack of planning, and lack of perseverance can also be related to increase in risk in other areas such as health risks, gambling, drug use, and more. These results, along with existing research, suggest that individuals who develop more problematic drinking habits also develop maladaptive behavioral traits as they age.

 

Take Away: College students who show increasing problematic drinking throughout young adulthood are likely to experience increased urgency, lack of planning, and lack of perseverance.

 

Riley, E.N., Davis, H.A., Milich, R., et al. (2018) Heavy, Problematic College Drinking Predicts Increases in Impulsivity. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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