Component III - Stress-Related College Drinking: Learned and Genetic Vulnerabilities The proposed study will examine simultaneously the roles of learned and genetic risk factors for college student drinking in response to stress- and affect-related triggers. Specifically, we will evaluate how socially-learned vulnerabilities, such as beliefs and motivations regarding the calming effects of drinking, as well as genetic vulnerabilities, including genes related to serotonin function, serve as diatheses for engaging in stress- and negative affect-related drinking (SNAD). Our proposed study will model SNAD processes at two levels. At the MACRO-LEVEL, we will examine how learned and genetic vulnerabilities interplay with major life stressors (i.e., early family environment, traumatic encounters, and negative life events) to influence average drinking outcomes and abuse/dependent symptoms among college students. At the MICROLEVEL, we will examine how learned and genetic vulnerabilities interplay with daily stressors and negative affect states to influence drinking, alcohol abuse/dependence symptoms, and coping-related drinking on a day-to-day basis among college students. To address these aims, we will employ an innovative Internet reporting system to (a) administer one-time measures of social learning risk factors, major life stressors, and average alcohol abuse/dependence symptoms and (b) track daily stress, affect, and alcohol use during a 30-day period among 1600 college students. This close to real-time data collection technique will minimize memory biases, thereby providing robust and reliable reports of daily alcohol use and related experiences. Saliva will be collected and DNA isolated and genotyped for carefully selected candidate genes, including the serotonin transporter gene-linked polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and other genes identified as potentially important risk factors for engaging in stress-related drinking. The proposed study is the first to examine how social learning and genetic vulnerabilities together contribute to both drinking levels in response to major life stressors and day-to-day drinking patterns in response to proximal daily stressors. This project will provide greater understanding of the factors that engender maladaptive drinking behaviors in a college-student population, which will potentially inform preventive and treatment interventions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Comprehensive Center (P60)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-BB)
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University of Connecticut
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