Evidence indicates a robust associafion between reports of drinking to cope with stress and alcohol use disorders (AUD) symptoms among young adults. Yet inconsistent findings have been observed for the association between life stress and drinking levels and genetic and social learning risk factors that modify this relafionship. One important reason for these weak findings, we believe, is the almost exclusive reliance on checklists to measure life stress, despite their questionable validity. Using a state-of-the-science interview assessment of life stress, and recruiting a large and well characterized sample of post-college young adults, the first aim of the proposed study is to determine whether 5-HTTLPR genotype S'allele carriers, individuals with strong positive alcohol outcome expectancies, and individuals with avoidance coping styles show stronger associations between life stress and drinking levels, coping-related drinking and AUD symptoms.
Our second aim i s to examine whether aspects of adult role attainment, such as enhanced coping and role related stress buffer and/or exacerbate the effects outlined in the first aim. We will also examine the moderating effects other relevant candidate genes. In this study, moderate to heavy drinking participants in our soon to be completed ARC college drinking study, who have provided DNA to address this study's aims, will be contacted approximately 5 years after participation in the college study (N after attrition = 950). They will complete an intensive semi-structured phone interview assessing chronic and epsiodic stress during the previous year, and a detailed assessment of post-college role attainment, role-related coping resources and role stress. Through an Internet-based survey they will also complete standard measues of alcohol outcome expectancies and avoidance coping style, and retropective reports of alcohol use quantity and frequency, reasons for drinking and AUD symptoms. Participants will then report their daily drinking and reasons for drinking in a 30-day Internet-based daily diary. Results from this study will be important in terms of identifying individuals at risk for stress-related drinking and development of AUDs in eariy adulthood.
In view of the public health costs of alcohol abuse and dependence, the ability to identify young adults at high risk for continued problematic use during the transition to adulthood is critical. Findings from this study should increase our understanding of the interaction of psychological and genetic risk factors for risky drinking, abuse and dependence in young adulthood.
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