Breath alcohol estimation (BrACE) training, which emphasizes biofeedback and education about the effects of alcohol, is an intervention that may be valuable in the context of prevention programs. Preliminary data in our laboratory have identified enduring post-training changes in approaches to drinking and driving. The overarching goal of this Project is to extend quantification of the feasibility and benefits of BrACE training to adults who report early life stress (ELS). ELS, defined as experience of abuse or neglect through age 18, is a risk factor for alcoholism and has been associated with memory deficits in adulthood. Individuals with ELS are particularly prone to anxiety, an additional risk factor for alcohol use disorders. Thus, identification of an intervention that can minimize the potential for excess alcohol use among these individuals is of paramount importance. This Project will recruit three groups of nondependent alcohol drinkers: individuals with no ELS, individuals with ELS, and individuals with ELS plus high trait anxiety. The Project will differentiate baseline BrACE accuracy (Aim 1), efficacy of BrACE training (Aim 2), the influence of BrACE training on alcohol use and related behaviors (Aim 3), and sensitivity to the impairing effects of alcohol on memory, balance, and simulated driving (Aim 4) among these groups. Adults in these three groups will be randomized to Intervention and Control groups that will attend pretraining, training, and testing sessions. During these sessions, subjects will receive the equivalent of four standard drinks in a two-hour period. A cognitive/behavioral test battery will be completed before and after alcohol drinking, and subjects will estimate breath alcohol concentration at multiple time points. During the training session, the Intervention group, but not the Control group, will receive BrACE training. One and three months after the testing session, all subjects will return to the laboratory and complete self-report questionnaires regarding alcohol intake and alcohol-related risk-taking behaviors, including driving under the influence of alcohol. We hypothesize that BrACE errors and alcohol-related memory impairments will be highest in the ELS+Anxiety group, followed by the ELS group, then the no ELS group. We also hypothesize that BrACE training will be efficacious in all three groups.
Relevance of this Research to Public Health: The Project will identify feasibility of an educational intervention in two populations at significant risk for alcohol abuse and dependence: individuals with ELS with and without concurrent trait anxiety. The Project will also measure the effectiveness of this training in altering alcohol use and driving while intoxicated in these populations. Successful completion of this proposal's Specific Aims will clarify the utility of breath alcohol estimation training as a viable intervention for binge drinkers.
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