Research & Resources

Relationship Between Drinking Risk and Preferences for Helping Resources Among Emerging Adults Living in Disadvantaged Communities in the Southeastern United States

Researchers in this study used an online survey to assess drinking practices, problems, and preferences for seeking help among community-dwelling emerging adults (EAs). Researchers sought to guide services for EAs and determine whether drinking risk levels varied by preferences for seeking help. Using digital respondent-driven sampling, researchers recruited 356 EA risky drinkers from disadvantaged communities. The online survey assessed participants’ drinking practices and problems, including alcohol use disorder symptoms, as well as their preferred form of help-seeking (i.e., smartphone apps; online help; in-person help from doctors, clinics, teachers, and school programs; mutual help groups; or help from friends and family). Results showed an association between risk levels and help-seeking preferences. EAs reporting more negative drinking consequences preferred seeking help from smartphone apps or from friends, whereas EAs reporting fewer negative consequences and drinking days preferred seeking professional, in-person help. Although over 90 percent of the participants fulfilled alcohol use disorder diagnostic criteria, fewer than 4 percent had received an alcohol-related intervention. EAs who were riskier drinkers appeared less likely to use professional resources in favor of informal and online resources that allow greater anonymity. The researchers suggested that these findings can help guide services for underserved populations to be more responsive to drinker risk levels.

This paper, “Relationship between drinking risk and preferences for helping resources among emerging adults living in disadvantaged communities in the Southeastern United States,” was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and published in the journal Alcohol and alcoholism.

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