There is a greater risk that children of adult problem drinkers will consume more alcohol after stressful situations. This was revealed in research by Anna Söderpalm Gordh from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. It has long been known that alcoholics’ children are 50% more likely to have a drink problem in the future, and this new study sheds new light on this link.
The study was published in the most recent issue of the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour.
The study involved 58 healthy people who were divided into two groups on the basis of whether they came from a family with a drink problem or not. 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,” says Söderpalm Gordh.
This behavior can have negative consequences in the long term. It is no secret that people who consume large quantities of alcohol every time they drink run 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,” says Söderpalm Gordh.
Alcoholism is usually divided into two categories: type I and type II. Type I is largely dependent on our genes’ interaction with the environment, for example the people we socialise with or the crises in our lives, while type II involves a considerable genetic risk of developing a drink problem, irrespective of our environment. Around 40% of the Swedish population has a close relative with a history of alcohol abuse.
Material adapted from University of Gothenburg.