By Cara Murez, Health Day reporter
WEDNESDAY, June 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) – When young adults seek a casual romantic relationship, alcohol use is likely to follow, new research shows.
Meanwhile, those who are already in a serious relationship are likely to drink less.
The study involved more than 700 Seattle-area people, aged 18 to 25, who completed surveys every month for two years. The study used a community sample that was not limited to college students.
“Young adults change so much in terms of social relationships that having this monthly data has really allowed us to refine the nuances and see these changes in alcohol use based on social situations,” said the study author Jennifer Duckworth. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development at Washington State University.
âThe idea is to understand if young adults can see alcohol as a way to make relationships easier. They can think of alcohol as a way to make going out easier or more fun,â Duckworth said in a commentary. university press release.
For the study, the researchers separated young single adults into two “relationship” groups: casual dating and uninteresting dating. Investigators followed study participants as they entered and left different relationship statuses.
âFor example, a month a person may not be interested in dating and their drinking tends to be less. Then if they start dating, their drinking tends to be higher. “said Duckworth.
âIf a student has midterm classes, they may have less interest in spending time with friends,â she added. “But if it’s spring break, they may value those friends more. And when the friendships get more important, we’ve found that alcohol consumption tends to be higher.”
Young adults consume more high-risk alcohol than any other age group, Duckworth noted. The study authors said the overall goal of this research was to understand the background to increased alcohol consumption among young adults.
âUnderstanding what goes on in their lives over time is very helpful if we are to mitigate high risk alcohol consumption,â Duckworth explained. “We can focus on interventions that help educate young adults about what motivates their behaviors. We are combining alcohol use with developmental research in a meaningful way that can really help people.”
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded the study. The results were published online June 14 in the journal Substance use and abuse.
SOURCE: Washington State University, press release, June 15, 2021
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