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Upward pressures on drinking: exposure and reactivity in adulthood.

Lemke S, Brennan PL, Schutte KK, Moos RH. Upward pressures on drinking: exposure and reactivity in adulthood. Journal of Studies On Alcohol. 2007 May 1; 68(3):437-45.

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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to identify the situations most commonly linked with increased drinking for different life periods and for nonproblem and problem drinkers. METHOD: A community sample of older adults (average age 69 years; 42% women), consisting of 480 nonproblem and 351 problem drinkers, provided information about their life history of drinking. For each of three life periods (early adulthood, early middle age, and late middle age), respondents indicated whether they experienced particular situations (exposure) and, if so, whether they increased their alcohol consumption in response to these situations (reactivity). These situations included social influences and stressors. RESULTS: Exposure to social influences and to stressors varied across life periods, as did drinking reactivity. Overall, the social influences of having peers or a partner who drank and the stressors of family interpersonal problems and emotional distress were common experiences and also were among the most likely to be linked with increased alcohol consumption. Compared with nonproblem drinkers, problem drinkers reported significantly higher levels of exposure to social influences and to stressors and also were much more reactive to them. CONCLUSIONS: Prevention and treatment of alcohol use disorders can be tailored to take into account variations in exposure and reactivity to situations that may place upward pressure on drinking.

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