BACKGROUND: Several studies have investigated the predictors of alcohol consumption behavior among adolescents and young adults. However, the body of evidence about the relationship between in particular psychological factors and alcohol consumption among individuals in the second half of life is still limited. Hence, we aimed at identifying factors associated with alcohol consumption among individuals aged 40 and above, especially focusing on psychological correlates.

METHODS: Data were derived from a population-based sample of community-dwelling individuals aged 40 to 95 years (n = 7820) in Germany. Alcohol consumption was rated as 'never' (never drinkers), 'rarer than once a month', 'one to three times a month', 'once a week', 'several times a week' (occasional drinkers), and 'daily' (daily drinkers). Socio-economic factors, the illness level and physical activity were considered as possible determinants of alcohol consumption. In addition, positive and negative affect, life satisfaction, optimism, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-regulation were included as psychological factors. Multinomial regressions were used to identify factors associated with drinking behavior.

RESULTS: 12.0% of the individuals were daily drinkers, 76.5% were occasional drinkers, and 11.5% of the individuals never drank alcohol. After adjusting for various potential confounders, multinomial logistic regressions revealed that, compared with never drinking, occasional and daily drinking were positively associated with a decreased loneliness, a higher life satisfaction, a higher positive affect, a higher optimism, a higher self-efficacy (occasional drinkers), a higher self-esteem, and less perceived stress. In addition, occasional and daily drinking were positively associated with less physical illnesses, male gender, and income as compared with never drinking.

CONCLUSIONS: The current study extends the existing literature on alcohol consumption behavior by new insights of correlates of drinking behavior among individuals in the second half of life. Since interventions are available to address this risk factor, this might help to identify individuals with increased alcohol consumption.

Published in Drinking Patterns

'Responsible drinking' campaigns emerged in the early 1970s as a means of addressing hazardous drinking and its related consequences. While these were initially the product of public health agencies and health-related NGOs, they are increasingly being developed and disseminated by the alcohol industry. There is considerable debate as to whether industry-generated campaigns are designed to reduce hazardous drinking and related problems (as argued by their developers) or are designed to avoid government regulation or even to increase sales. The aim of the present study was to explore the way that recent industry-developed responsible drinking campaigns are perceived and interpreted by the general public. That is, do they promote low-risk drinking, promote risky drinking, or just muddy the waters. Two sub-studies were conducted. The first, a mall intercept study with 180 adults in two Australian shopping districts, explored participants' understanding of slogans/taglines. The second, an online survey with 480 Australian adults, explored understandings and interpretations of television/online commercials. The results of the two studies revealed diversity in participants' interpretation of the 'responsible drinking' advertisements. Terminology utilised in industry-developed advertisements was found to be ambiguous; for example, what age group was being referred to in the tagline 'Kids and alcohol don't mix', and whether 'Drink Properly' meant not drinking to excess or drinking in a way that made you look more sophisticated. In Study Two, the government-developed campaign ('Know when to say when') was clearly interpreted as warning against risky consumption of alcohol; whereas the industry-developed campaigns ('How to drink properly', 'Kids absorb your drinking', 'Friends are waiting') were interpreted to have a range of different meanings, including some seemingly unrelated to alcohol. These findings are consistent with the literature evaluating anti-smoking campaigns developed by the tobacco industry, and previous research showing that industry communications serve to soften public opinion and create the impression of a 'socially responsible' industry but are likely to be less effective than initiatives focused on the availability and promotion of alcohol.

Published in Drinking Patterns

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.

Published in Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: Heavy episodic drinking (HED) or consuming 4+/5+ drinks in 1 occasion for women/men is linked consistently with alcohol-related harms. Recent research suggests that many individuals drink at levels more than twice this cutoff (8+/10+ drinks), commonly referred to as "high-intensity drinking." Prevalence rates of high-intensity drinking and its dynamic association with alcohol use disorder (AUD) across all ages, however, remain unknown. The current study used data from a nationally representative sample to document age-varying prevalence rates of HED-only drinking and high-intensity drinking, prevalence rates of AUD for HED-only drinkers and high-intensity drinkers, and relative odds of experiencing an AUD for high-intensity drinkers as compared to HED-only drinkers.

METHODS: Data were from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III. The final analytic sample consisted of past-year drinkers aged 18 to 64 years (n = 22,776).

RESULTS: Time-varying effect modeling revealed that high-intensity drinking and HED-only drinking were equally prevalent during young adulthood and prevalence rates of both types of drinking generally became less common with increasing age. At all ages, high-intensity drinkers were at 3 or more times greater odds of meeting criteria for an AUD than HED-only drinkers. The association between high-intensity relative to HED-only drinking was strongest earlier in adulthood with approximately 83% of 18-year-old high-intensity drinkers having AUD relative to 42% of HED-only drinkers.

CONCLUSIONS: Future research aiming to identify drinkers most at risk of harms and in need of treatment may benefit from assessing the extent to which an individual exceeds the 8+/10+ threshold of drinking.

Published in Drinking Patterns
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