Research & Resources

Family History, Childhood Maltreatment, and Adolescent Binge Drinking Exert Synergistic Effects on Delay Discounting and Future Alcohol Use

In this study, researchers hypothesized that family history (FH) of alcohol use disorder, childhood maltreatment (CM), and adolescent binge drinking increased impulsivity and led to binge drinking increases over the first year of college. Overall, 329 first-semester college students (18–19?years old) with varying degrees of FH, CM, and adolescent binge drinking completed an online study that included surveys and a computerized delay discounting task (i.e., one that quantifies a person’s tendency to select either smaller, immediate monetary rewards or larger, delayed rewards). Binge drinking was surveyed retrospectively to measure adolescent binge drinking, in addition to baseline and 1-year follow-up measures. Results showed that greater levels of FH, CM, and adolescent binge drinking interacted to reduce the selection of delayed rewards, indicating increased impulsivity. This combination of factors also was associated with increased binge drinking over the 1-year follow-up period. Although FH, CM, and adolescent binge drinking influenced individual paths, the moderated mediation analysis, which tested whether delay discounting mediated future binge drinking, was not significant. Researchers suggested that interventions targeting delay discounting processes might represent an effective strategy to reduce harmful drinking for certain high-risk college students.

This paper, “Family history, childhood maltreatment, and adolescent binge drinking exert synergistic effects on delay discounting and future alcohol use,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse.

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