The pattern of alcohol consumption in the form of binge drinking (BD) or heavy episodic drinking has increased notably worldwide in recent years, especially among adolescent and young people, being currently recognized as a global health problem. Although only a minority of binge drinkers will develop a substance use disorder, BD may have negative personal and social consequences in the short and medium term. The objective of this article is to review the findings on personality traits related to binge drinkers and to emphasize the aspects that should be examined in order to make progress in this area. The main characteristics of personality related to the practice of BD, regardless of the theoretical model used, are high Impulsivity and high Sensation seeking, as well as Anxiety sensitivity, Neuroticism (Hopelessness), Extraversion and low Conscientiousness. The data obtained may have theoretical implications to elucidate the endophenotype of BD, but they are especially useful for their preventive applications. Integration into prevention programs of emotional self-control skills, decision-making, social skills, and strategies to manage negative emotions will minimize the risk factors or consequences of BD associated with personality and will improve their effectiveness. In the future, it is necessary to harmonize a common measurement instrument for the assessment of personality, develop longitudinal studies with large samples that also integrate biological and neurocognitive measurements, and determine the reciprocal relationship between personality and BD together with its modulating variables, as well as the possible cultural differences
02 August 2016 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: To examine if and how older adults modify their drinking after health deterioration, and the factors that motivate changing or maintaining stable drinking behaviour.

STUDY DESIGN: Explanatory follow-up mixed-methods research.

METHODS: The association between health deterioration and changes in alcohol consumption was examined using secondary data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a biennial prospective cohort study of a random sample of adults aged 50 years and older living in England. Data were collected through a personal interview and self-completion questionnaire across three waves between 2004 and 2009. The sample size (response rate) across the three waves was 8781 (49.9%), 7168 (40.3%) and 6623 (37.3%). The Chi-squared test was used to examine associations between diagnosis with a long-term condition or a worsening of self-rated health (e.g. from good to fair or fair to poor) and changes in drinking frequency (e.g. everyday, 5-6 days per week, etc.) and volume (ethanol consumed on a drinking day) between successive waves. In-depth interviews with 19 older adults recently diagnosed with a long-term condition were used to explore the factors that influenced change or maintenance in alcohol consumption over time. A purposive sampling strategy was used to recruit a diverse sample of current and former drinkers from voluntary and community organizations in the north of England. An inductive approach was used to analyze the data, facilitating the development of an a posteriori framework for understanding drinking change.

RESULTS: There was no significant relationship between health deterioration and changes in drinking volume over time. There was however a significant association between health deterioration and changes in drinking frequency between successive waves (chi2 = 15.24, P < 0.001 and chi2 = 17.28, P < 0.001). For example, of participants reporting health deterioration between the first two waves, 47.6% had stable drinking frequency, 23.4% increased their drinking frequency and 29% reported decreased drinking frequency. In comparison, of participants reporting no health deterioration, 52.7% reported stable frequency, 20.8% increased frequency and 26.4% decreased frequency. In qualitative interviews, older adults described a wide range of factors that influence changes in drinking behaviour: knowledge gained from talking to healthcare professionals, online and in the media; tangible negative experiences that were attributed to drinking; mood and emotions (e.g. joy); the cost of alcohol; pub closures; and changes in social roles and activities. Health was just one part of a complex mix of factors that influenced drinking among older adults.

CONCLUSION: Patterns of drinking change after health deterioration in older adults are diverse, including stable, increasing and decreasing alcohol consumption over time. Although health motivations to change drinking influence behaviour in some older adults, social and financial motivations to drink are also important in later life and thus a holistic approach is required to influence behaviour.

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether maternal negative affectivity, a tendency to frequent negative emotions and views, is associated with light alcohol use and binge drinking during pregnancy.

DESIGN: Cohort.

SETTING: Norway 1999-2008.

POPULATION: The study includes complete information on 66 111 pregnant women and their partners. METHODS: We used data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study (MoBa) representing 39% of the pregnant population.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Light alcohol use (0.5-2 units one to four times per month) and binge drinking (an intake of 5 alcohol units or more) measured with the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C).

RESULTS: For each unit increase in maternal negative affectivity the odds for light alcohol use increased with 27% in the first trimester [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19-1.36], and 28% in the second trimester (95% CI 1.18-1.39). With respect to binge drinking, each unit increase in maternal negative affectivity was associated with 55% higher odds in the first trimester (95% CI 1.44-1.67), and 114% higher odds in the second trimester (95% CI 1.70-2.69).

CONCLUSIONS: Negative affectivity is associated with both light alcohol use and binge drinking during pregnancy. The mechanisms mediating the relation between negative affectivity and alcohol use in pregnancy should be investigated further.

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is currently recognized as the most common known cause of mental retardation, affecting from 1 to 7 per 1000 live-born infants. Individuals with FAS suffer from changes in brain structure, cognitive impairments, and behavior problems. Researchers investigating neuropsychological functioning have identified deficits in learning, memory, executive functioning, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and poor communication and social skills in individuals with FAS and fetal alcohol effects (FAE). Investigators using autopsy and brain imaging methods have identified microcephaly and structural abnormalities in various regions of the brain (including the basal ganglia, corpus callosum, cerebellum, and hippocampus) that may account for the neuropsychological deficits. Results of studies using newer brain imaging and analytic techniques have indicated specific alterations (i.e., displacements in the corpus callosum, increased gray matter density in the perisylvian regions, altered gray matter asymmetry, and disproportionate reductions in the frontal lobes) in the brains of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol, and their relations with brain function. Future research, including using animal models, could help inform our knowledge of brain-behavior relations in the context of prenatal alcohol exposure, and assist with early identification and intervention.

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