New research has shown that stress alone can lead women to binge drinking. The study was published in the “Psychology of Addictive Behaviors Journal”.
Men who experienced the same stress only drank to excess when they had already started drinking.
Although rates of alcohol abuse are higher among men than women, women are catching up. Women are also at greater risk than men of developing alcohol-related problems.
Participants consumed alcoholic beverages in a simulated bar while experiencing stressful and non-stressful situations. Stress caused women, but not men, to drink more than expected, a finding that demonstrated the importance of studying gender differences in alcohol consumption.
“Some people may intend to drink an alcoholic drink or two and stop drinking, but others just keep going. and deregulated alcohol consumption. The role of stress in impaired control of alcohol consumption is under-studied, particularly in women, ”said Julie Patock-Peckham, assistant research professor at ASU and lead author of the study. .
The study took place in a research lab designed to simulate a bar, complete with a bartender, bar stools, and lively conversations. Participants included 105 women and 105 men. They were randomly assigned to different groups, some experiencing a stressful situation and others a non-stressful situation. Then, half of the participants received one alcoholic drink equivalent to three cocktails, and the other half received three non-alcoholic drinks. After that, all participants had unlimited access to alcoholic drinks from the bar for 90 minutes.
“We know that genes and the environment play a role in problematic alcohol use. We can’t do anything about the genes, but we can intervene with the environment. Stress and impaired control of drinking. alcohol are closely related, and because stress is something we can handle, we tested whether stressors cause deregulated alcohol use, ”said Patock-Peckham, who heads the Social Addictions Impulse Lab at the ‘KNEW.
The experimental setup allowed the research team to determine whether stress, the initial drink, or a combination of the two caused the amount of alcohol the participants consumed. The team measured alcohol consumption in a total number of drinks consumed and using alcohol content in breath (BP).
Exposure to stress led to binge drinking in all participants. The men who received the first drink containing alcohol and who experienced stress drank more than the men who received the placebo.
Whether or not the first drink was alcoholic mattered to women: Stress led to binge drinking.
“The fact that women just need the stress but men need the boost to already have alcohol on board shows how important this type of research is. are not the same for men and women, and we cannot continue to use models that have been developed in men to help women, ”said Patock-Peckham.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and Burton Family Foundation. In addition to Patock-Peckham, the research team included William Corbin, professor of psychology at ASU; Heather Smyth and Arian Rouf, graduate students at ASU; Jessica Canning of the University of Washington; and J. Williams of RTI International.