By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
A new study finds that a family problem with alcohol can increase the risk that an individual will turn to alcohol when confronted with stress.
Specifically, Swedish researchers discovered children of a parent with an alcohol problem are apt to consume more alcohol after stressful situations.
Researchers have known that alcoholics’ children are 50 percent more likely to have a drinking problem in the future. This new research shows how stress makes it even more difficult for individuals with a genetic risk for alcoholism.
The study has been published in the most recent issue of the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior.
Researchers divided 58 healthy people into two groups based on whether they came from a family with a history of alcoholism. Both groups were randomly assigned to two experimental situations, one of which was more stressful and involved solving mathematical problems under timed conditions in public.
The two groups were subsequently allowed to drink alcohol in an experimental consumption test or a placebo, depending on which situation they had been randomly assigned.
“The results show that people with parents who have a history of alcohol abuse drink more than others when exposed to stress,” said lead researcher Anna Söderpalm Gordh, Ph.D.
This behavior can have negative consequences in the long term, as the volume or quantity of alcohol consumed is associated with a higher risk of developing a dependency in the future.
“If alcohol relaxes you when you’re stressed, then you should try to find other ways of calming yourself down — relaxation exercises, for example,” said Söderpalm Gordh. This advice is especially pertinent for individuals who have alcoholism in their family.
Source: University of Gothenburg
Nauert PhD, R. (2011). Familial Risk of Alcoholism Tied to Drinking More Under Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2011, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/09/26/familial-risk-of-alcoholism-tied-to-drinking-more-under-stress/29773.html