My name is Dr. Julie Patock-Peckham and I am the director of the Social Addictions Impulse Lab. We study the impact of stress and drinking too much alcohol. Our laboratory studies the conditions and traits leading people to make poor decisions about consuming too much alcohol. Some people really can attend a social event and just consume one or two alcoholic drinks over the course of the evening and stop drinking, but others just keep consuming alcohol irrespective of their plans or the consequences. We believe this is at the crux of alcohol addiction.
Currently, our lab is interested in how childhood trauma plays a role in personality traits that influences one’s poor decisions making regarding heavy drinking. We are also looking at how stressful events can change how much people drink within a social drinking context in a simulated naturalistic bar lab. While submitting federal grants we are seeking 15, 000 dollars in donations to keep our fight against alcohol use disorders alive and well in between federal grants. Even $5 donations will help us reach our goal.
We believe that vulnerabilities from childhood trauma do have an impact in how people behave in a social drinking context. Our lab is one of the first to study the impact of stress on a large sample of both women and men. In existing literature, most work in this area has only occurred with samples of just men. This is scary.
There is a telescoping effect found among women with diagnosed alcohol use disorders in which their trajectory from first drink to alcohol use disorder is much faster than that trajectory for men. This is the case even though more men suffer from alcohol use disorders overall. However, women are catching up to men in alcohol use disorders diagnoses in alarming rates. In our most recent study, we found that a stressful event alone can increase alcohol consumption among women to beyond legal limits. Men seem to need a few drinks first and a stressful event in combination to reach beyond legal limits.
Given the pandemic and women needing to work from home, teach school from home, and the never ending chores they face, relaxing with a glass of wine at the end of the day may not be the best choice to cope with the stress of it all for women. Using alcohol as a positive social lubricant is different than using it to take the stressful feelings away. The latter, is more likely to lead to alcoholism. We would love to continue to study the root causes of alcoholism. Help us keep our rich tradition of working with first generation college students, minority college students, and getting women interested in STEM fields such as statistics and mental health field alive. Again, even five dollar donations would help.