OBJECTIVE: Moderate alcohol use has been broadly associated with health benefits among older adults, including improved mood. Aims of this study were to evaluate the relationship of moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology over a period of eight years, and to examine inflammation, indicated by C-reactive protein (CRP), as one mechanism by which this relationship functions.

METHODS: The study included 3177 community-dwelling participants over the age of 65 in 2008 drawn from the Health and Retirement Study. Data from the 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2014 waves were used. Alcohol use was measured via self-report and was dichotomized as abstinent (0 drinks per week) and moderate (1-14 drinks per week). Inflammation was measured using CRP, which was collected using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and provided in units of mug/mL. Control variables included gender, age, body mass index (BMI), and medical burden.

RESULTS: A latent growth curve model with full information maximum likelihood was used, with results revealing that moderate drinkers endorsed fewer depressive symptoms at baseline and a steeper rate of change over time. Abstinent respondents' depressive symptomatology was characterized by a more linear change rate. Further, moderate drinkers had lower CRP levels suggesting that inflammation partially mediates the relationship between moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology.

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate alcohol use predicts fewer depressive symptoms among older adults. This relationship is partially moderated by CRP and is eroded by the passage of time. Future research should identify additional mechanisms relating alcohol to positive health outcomes and less depressive symptomatology. Copyright (c) 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Published in General Health

INTRODUCTION AND AIM: This study, which builds on previous research demonstrating that drinking motives are associated with adverse consequences, investigates the associations between drinking motives and non-alcohol-attributed adverse consequences and disentangles alcohol-related and direct effects.

DESIGN AND METHOD: On the basis of a sample of 22 841 alcohol-using 13- to 16-year-olds (50.6% female) from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Wales, structural equation models were used to estimate direct and indirect effects. Additionally, differences across countries were tested in a multigroup analysis.

RESULTS: The indirect effect (via alcohol use) was greater for injuries and academic problems than for more general outcomes such as life dissatisfaction and negative body image. For social, enhancement and coping motives, we found positive indirect effects (via alcohol use) on injuries and academic problems; the association was negative for conformity motives. The direct effect, that is, the effect above and beyond alcohol use, indicated more negative consequences among those who tended to drink more frequently for coping motives. More negative consequences, such as injuries and negative body image, were also found among those who drink for conformity motives. The pattern of association was largely comparable across countries.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: While the actual mean level of drinking motives, alcohol use and adverse consequence varied across countries, the consistency of association patterns implies that drinking motive-inspired health promotion efforts are likely to be beneficial across Europe. This is particularly important for coping drinkers because they are especially prone to adverse consequences over and above their alcohol use.

[Wicki M, Kuntsche E, Eichenberger Y, Aasvee K, Bendtsen P, Dankulincova Veselska Z, Demetrovics Z, Dzielska A, Farkas J, de Matos MG, Roberts C, Tynjala J, Valimaa R, Vieno A. Different drinking motives, different adverse consequences? Evidence among adolescents from 10 European countries. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;00:000-000]

Published in Drinking Patterns

OBJECTIVE: Research on late-middle-aged and older adults has focused primarily on average level of alcohol consumption, overlooking variability in underlying drinking patterns. The purpose of the present study was to examine the independent contributions of an episodic heavy pattern of drinking versus a high average level of drinking as prospective predictors of drinking problems.

METHOD: The sample comprised 1,107 adults ages 55-65 years at baseline. Alcohol consumption was assessed at baseline, and drinking problems were indexed across 20 years. We used prospective negative binomial regression analyses controlling for baseline drinking problems, as well as for demographic and health factors, to predict the number of drinking problems at each of four follow-up waves (1, 4, 10, and 20 years).

RESULTS: Across waves where the effects were significant, a high average level of drinking (coefficients of 1.56, 95% CI [1.24, 1.95]; 1.48, 95% CI [1.11, 1.98]; and 1.85, 95% CI [1.23, 2.79] at 1, 10, and 20 years) and an episodic heavy pattern of drinking (coefficients of 1.61, 95% CI [1.30, 1.99]; 1.61, 95% CI [1.28, 2.03]; and 1.43, 95% CI [1.08, 1.90] at 1, 4, and 10 years) each independently increased the number of drinking problems by more than 50%.

CONCLUSIONS: Information based only on average consumption underestimates the risk of drinking problems among older adults. Both a high average level of drinking and an episodic heavy pattern of drinking pose prospective risks of later drinking problems among older adults.

Published in Drinking Patterns

OBJECTIVE: Using a national sample of young adults, this study identified latent classes of alcohol use including high-intensity drinking (10+ drinks) from ages 18 to 25/26, and explored associations between time-invariant covariates measured at age 18 and class membership.

METHOD: Longitudinal data from the national Monitoring the Future study were available for 1078 individuals (51% female) first surveyed as 12th grade students in 2005-2008, and followed through modal age 25/26. Repeated measures latent class analysis was used to identify latent classes based on self-reported alcohol use: no past 30-day drinking, 1-9 drinks per occasion in the past 2weeks, and 10+ drinks per occasion.

RESULTS: Four latent classes of alcohol use from ages 18 to 25/26 were identified: (1) Non-Drinkers (21%); (2) Legal Non-High-Intensity Drinkers (23%); (3) Persistent Non-High-Intensity Drinkers (40%); and (4) High-Intensity Drinkers (16%). Membership in the High-Intensity Drinkers class was characterized by higher than average probabilities of high-intensity drinking at all ages, with the probability of high-intensity drinking increasing between ages 18 and 21/22. Both gender and race/ethnicity significantly differentiated class membership, whereas neither parental education (a proxy for socioeconomic status) nor college plans at 12th grade showed significant associations.

CONCLUSIONS: More than one in seven individuals who were seniors in high school experienced a long-term pattern of high-intensity drinking lasting into middle young adulthood. Young adult high-intensity drinking is often preceded by high-intensity drinking in high school, suggesting the importance of screening and prevention for high-intensity drinking during adolescence.

Published in Drinking Patterns
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