That “Warm Glow” of the First Drink Might Take You To Hell!

In a recent blog we looked at the possibility that those  with a positive family history of alcoholism, experience a heightened stimulant response to alcohol in addition to a blunted response to more negative impairing effects. 

In other words sons and daughters of alcoholics at risk for later alcoholism appear to have a greater kick from alcohol and can also hold their liquor without the negatives that go with it such as falling around the place, etc. I think we all know, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, what these negative   impairing effects may be.  In fact I suspect we all have rather vivid memories of experiencing such negative impairing effects.

Personally speaking I used to love having a good laugh at my friends, enemies and acquaintances having these negative impairing effects and would often remind them of these the following hungover-cursed morning.

I rarely got plastered, swayed madly across the street, puked up or made a complete fool of myself. Not in the early days of drinking anyway!!

In this study from a few months ago, it is clearly suggested that  heavy social drinkers who report greater stimulation and reward from alcohol are more likely to develop alcohol use disorder over time.

A team led by Andrea King, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago, analyzed the subjective response of 104 young adult heavy social drinkers to alcohol and tracked their long-term drinking habits.

“Heavy drinkers who felt alcohol’s stimulant and pleasurable effects at the highest levels in their 20s were the ones with the riskiest drinking profiles in the future and most likely to go on and have alcohol problems in their 30s,” King said, “In comparison, participants reporting fewer positive effects of alcohol were more likely to mature out of binge drinking as they aged.”

“We knew that at age 25, there were binge drinkers who were sensitive to alcohol’s more positive effects,” King said. “We just didn’t know what was going to happen to them. Now we show that they’re the ones more likely to go on to experience more alcohol problems.”

Journal Reference

  1. Andrea C. King, Patrick J. McNamara, Deborah S. Hasin, Dingcai Cao. Alcohol Challenge Responses Predict Future Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms: A 6-Year Prospective Study. Biological Psychiatry, 2014; 75 (10): 798 DOI:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.08.001

Journalist Article Reference

  1. University of Chicago Medical Center. “Effects of alcohol in young binge drinkers predicts future alcoholism.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515103702.htm>.

The earlier you start drinking the greater the chance of being alcoholic

Early Onset to Begin Drinking

It is a very common theme in AA meetings and other 12 step groups about how young alcoholics started drinking. I always wondered if this had an effect on later alcoholism, although I know many alcoholics who started drinking much later in life. Looking at the research below it seems that the age a person started drinking can predict later problems with alcohol. Interestingly “disinhibited” behaviour, such as impulsiveness and not being able to “stop oneself” from engaging in certain behaviours also have a bearing on later alcohol problems, as does adverse childhood experiences   and the amount of alcoholism in the family.

The age of onset to begin regular drinking is an important predictor of age of first alcohol problem and subsequent alcohol dependence (1,2),  as well as greater severity and persistence of problems with illicit drugs (3).

dangerous_ways_young_people_consuming_alcohol

For individuals that initiated drinking prior to age 14 years, the likelihood of adult alcohol dependence was 40%, four times more likely than individuals who began drinking at 20 years or older (2) .  It was also reported that individuals that drank before age 14 years were more than twice as likely to become alcohol dependent than those trying alcohol after age 16 years (4).

A number of factors such as early adverse childhood experiences (5,6)  and familial density of alcoholism (7,8), predict earlier age of drinking onset.

Earlier onset of drinking also appears to be related to the presence of behaviors often characterized as “disinhibited”.There is also abundant evidence that behavioral under-control is an important determinant of later development of substance use disorders (SUD) (9,10). Behavioral under-control observed as early as 3 years is predictive of alcohol-related problems at 21 years (11), and in adolescents mediates the relationship between family history of alcoholism and young adult SUDs (12)

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References

1. Hawkins JD, Graham JW, Maguin E, Abbott R, Hill KG, Catalano RF. Exploring the effects of age of alcohol use initiation and psychosocial risk factors on subsequent alcohol misuse.Journal of Studies Alcohol. 1997;58(3):280–290.[PMC free article]

2. Grant BF, Dawson DA. Age at onset of alcohol use and its association with DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey.Journal of Substance Abuse. 1997;9:103–110.

3. Kandel DB, Yamaguchi K, Chen K. Stages of progression in drug involvement from adolescence to adulthood: further evidence for the gateway theory. Journal of Studies Alcohol.1992;53(5):447–457.

4. Sartor CE, Lynskey MT, Heath AC, Jacob T, True W. The role of childhood risk factors in initiation of alcohol use and progression to alcohol dependence. Addiction.2007;102(2):216–225.

5. Rothman EF, Edwards EM, Heeren T, Hingson RW. Adverse childhood experiences predict earlier age of drinking onset: results from a representative US sample of current or former drinkers. Pediatrics. 2008;122(2):e298–e304.

6. Waldrop AE, Ana EJ, Saladin ME, McRae AL, Brady KT. Differences in early onset alcohol use and heavy drinking among persons with childhood and adulthood trauma. American Journal on Addictions. 2007;16(6):439–442.

7. Hill SY, Yuan H. Familial density of alcoholism and onset of adolescent drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol.1999;60(1):7–17.

8.  Hill SY, Shen S, Lowers L, Locke J. Factors predicting the onset of adolescent drinking in families at high risk for developing alcoholism. Biological Psychiatry. 2000a;48(4):265–275.

9. Stice E, Barrera M, Jr., Chassin L. Prospective differential prediction of adolescent alcohol use and problem use:examining the mechanisms of effect. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.1998;107(4):616–628

10. Zucker RA. Anticipating problem alcohol use developmentally from childhood into middle adulthood: what have we learned?Addiction. 2008;103(Suppl 1):100–108. [PMC free article]

11.  Caspi A, Moffitt TE, Newman DL, Silva PA. Behavioral observations at age 3 years predict adult psychiatric disorders. Longitudinal evidence from a birth cohort. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1996;53(11):1033–1039.

12. King KM, Chassin L. Mediating and moderated effects of adolescent behavioral undercontrol and parenting in the prediction of drug use disorders in emerging adulthood.Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. 2004;18(3):239–249.