Stress drives alcoholics' children to drink

September 20, 2011

If either of your parents has a drink problem, there is a greater risk that you will consume more alcohol after stressful situations, reveals current research 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 new research from the Sahlgrenska Academy is shedding new light on this link. Carried out by researcher Anna Söderpalm Gordh, the study has been 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 in an experimental consumption test or a placebo, depending on which situation they had been randomly assigned.

"The results show that people with who have a history of alcohol abuse drink more than others when exposed to stress," says Söderpalm Gordh.

This behaviour 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.

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