Biopsychosocial Pathways to Alcohol-Related Problems

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Drinking to cope has been associated with negative consequences among college students. Less is known about the biopsychosocial pathways that increase the susceptibility to these drinking problems. This study aims to assess the relationship between biopsychosocial variables that have been shown to impact substance-based coping (ie, alexithymia, childhood/adolescent abuse, and genetics).


Self-report and genetic [DRD2 genotype (A1− or A1+)] information were collected from 297 participants.


Using structural equation models, results found that greater amounts of emotional abuse predicted alexithymia, and substance-based coping predicted drinking problems among both groups. However, among persons with the A1+ allele, greater levels of alexithymia were associated with greater levels of substance-based coping.


These results indicate that the A1+ allele may link alexithymia and prior emotional abuse to a higher risk for substance-based coping and subsequent alcohol problems.

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