Linking Impulsivity Domains and Subjective Response to Alcohol in Young Adults Using Lab and Daily Assessment Methods

Grants and Contracts Details


PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT Young adult alcohol misuse is an urgent, growing public health crisis, as young adults have the highest alcohol use disorder rates of any age group with rates increasing in young women. Interventions for this population are hampered by small effects, few options and lack of tailoring to salient risk factors. A recent review in Addiction argued that research informing interventions fails to account for the complexity of relationships among factors contributing to young adult alcohol misuse. We will address these needs by examining relationships between two cardinal etiologic risk factors: impulsivity and subjective response to alcohol (SR). Despite theoretical and biological links, little is known about relations between these two risk factors, or how associations between them may promote young adult alcohol misuse longitudinally and on a momentary or daily basis. Prior theory and evidence linking impulsivity and positive, rewarding alcohol effects have been primarily learning and expectancy based. Here, based on exciting preliminary results, we posit an inherent, biological link between impulsivity and high-risk SR (elevated stimulation and dampened sedation). This research is nascent with multiple gaps in knowledge. We will address these gaps by examining impulsivity pre-drinking, SR and alcohol use in a lab setting and via seven 10-day daily assessment periods over 2 years using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) (N=250, 50% female). Using self-report and both lab and mobile tasks, we will characterize 3 unique, established impulsivity domains: poor inhibitory control, delay discounting and negative urgency. SR will be assessed at successive breath alcohol levels using precision intravenous (IV) methods in the lab, followed by opportunity to self-administer more IV alcohol. We will also measure SR at roughly comparable, estimated blood alcohol levels via daily EMA methods. This design enables testing of SR early in a drinking event as a predictor of in-lab and daily alcohol use, along with alcohol use and consequences over time, plus SR’s potential role as a mediator of impulsivity/alcohol relations. Recent findings indicate daily changes in impulsivity predict subsequent drinking and consequences. These types of changes are challenging to capture with lab methods only. Daily measures also enable modeling of both person-level individual differences and daily, within-subject effects. However, there are no published studies relating daily impulsivity and SR measures. In this study, we will: 1) determine relations between lab-based impulsivity and SR; 2) determine relations between daily impulsivity and SR; and 3) relate impulsivity and SR to alcohol misuse longitudinally. We hypothesize impulsivity will relate to heightened stimulation and less sedation following alcohol and that SR will partially mediate relations between impulsivity and alcohol misuse. Evidence of links between specific impulsivity domains and SR longitudinally and on a momentary/daily basis will point to specific intervention targets to ameliorate two critical vulnerability factors for young adult alcohol misuse. Thus, we will: 1) identify mechanisms of alcohol action and 2) facilitate prevention and treatment research: two NIAAA priority areas.
Effective start/end date9/20/228/31/23


  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $1,352,302.00


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