June 10, 2020. Moderate drinkers are not immune from being injured, a new study from senior scientist Cheryl Cherpitel and colleagues found. Results showed that injury risk increased at low levels of exposure, measured by number of hours of having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, and that this risk was greatest for white drinkers compared to black and Hispanic drinkers. At the time of the study, a BAC of 0.08 or higher was the legal limit for driving in all 50 states.
May 23, 2020. A new study shows that voters in Washington State would likely reject privatization of liquor sales if the vote was held today. The study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, found that Washington residents who voted in favor of ending state controls on liquor sales in 2011 were 2.59 times more likely to want to change their vote than residents who voted against it. The change was large enough that the measure would not pass today if the vote was recast.
January 9, 2020. People who consume high-levels of alcohol may be at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure. Results showed that women who drank more than 14 drinks per week were 1.57 times more likely to develop hypertension while risky drinking men’s risk rose by 1.64 times. The study applied a lifecourse perspective and followed a cohort of 8,289 individuals aged 14-21 from 1979 to 2012 when they were in their late 40s and early 50s.
December 18, 2019. New follow-up research on Washington State’s privatization of alcohol and its effect on pricing and consumption found liquor prices continued to increase compared to previous analyses conducted in 2014. However, increases varied by brand, container size, and store type. Between 2014 and 2016, prices grew by 3.9% for a 750 mL container and 6.5% for 1.75 L compared to the previous analysis which showed price increases from pre-privatization to 2014 of 15% for the 750 mL containers and 4.7% for the 1.75 L size.
June 5, 2019. In the US, adults under age forty living in states with more restrictive alcohol policies experience fewer aggression- and drink-driving-related harms from someone else’s drinking than those in states with weaker policies Results showed that for a 10-point increase in restrictiveness of an alcohol policy scale, including for instance alcohol availability, taxation and drink-driving laws, the odds of experiencing such secondhand harms was 16 percent lower.
State policies that regulate alcohol/drug use during pregnancy cause worse birth outcomes, increase public health costs
May 8, 2019. State-level alcohol/drug pregnancy policies lead to increased low birthweight and preterm births, costing millions of dollars per year A new study finds that several state-level policies targeting alcohol and drug use during pregnancy lead to greater numbers of low birthweight (LBW) and preterm births (PTB), resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars more in public health spending each year.
March 4, 2019. People with a lifetime alcohol use disorder (AUD) who used cannabis moderately had 2.83 times the number of drinks and experienced 6.82 times greater odds of alcohol-related harms than abstainers, according to a new study from the Alcohol Research Group (ARG), a program of the Public Health Institute. Mid-level cannabis users also had an increased number of heavy drinking episodes and greater odds of alcohol dependence, compared to people who didn’t use cannabis.
February 11, 2019. The way we currently measure how much alcohol each person is consuming may be less accurate than previously thought, according to a new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute. The study authors offer a new way to determine per capita alcohol consumption that accounts for changes to the alcohol content of alcoholic beverages and people’s drinking preferences over time.
June 27, 2018. A new retrospective assessment of marijuana use in Washington State published today by the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, found only a 1.2 percentage point increase in past year use after recreational marijuana was legalized, from 24.3% to 25.6%. The new findings published today in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggest that a previous report showing an increase of 3.8 percentage points may have been overestimated due to respondents underreporting their consumption when marijuana was still illegal.
June 27, 2018. Countries with stricter alcohol policies had lower rates of alcohol-related injuries, regardless of individual consumption rates and drinking patterns, and country-level drinking patterns, a new study from the Alcohol Research Group (ARG), a program of the Public Health Institute, found. The study was published today in Addiction.
June 18, 2018. A majority of state-level policies targeting women’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy—even policies designed to support pregnant women—lead to more adverse birth outcomes and less prenatal care utilization, according to a new study from ARG and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a program at the University of California, San Francisco, published today in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
June 13, 2018. A new cross-sectional study found a strong association between poor quality of life and greater distress for people who experienced financial problems due to someone else’s drinking or had been assaulted by a spouse, partner, or family member.
New study looks at the relationship between immune function and mental health among people in treatment
March 20, 2018. When assessing the relationship between immune function and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, most researchers exclude people with alcohol and drug use disorders because of the complexity they introduce into the analyses. However, for Priscilla Martinez, study lead and Scientist with the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, not including people with substance use disorders is problematic.
February 28, 2018. People with an alcohol use disorder who participated in alternative mutual help groups had abstinence outcomes equivalent to those who participated in traditional 12-step groups at the same level. This is the first longitudinal, comparative study of 12-step groups and their alternatives, including Women for Sobriety (WFS), LifeRing Secular Recovery (LifeRing), and SMART Recovery (SMART).
Children in Poorer Neighborhoods are at a Greater Risk of Developing Alcohol Use Disorders as Young Adults
February 22, 2018. In studying emerging adults who lived in deprived neighborhoods when they were children, a new study found indirect pathways that mediated the risk for developing alcohol use disorders (AUD). Such pathways included success in school during adolescence, and being engaged in higher education, gainful employment or military service when they were older.
Low rates of drinking may protect overweight women from developing diabetes while heavy drinking increases risk for all women
February 21, 2018. Women who were overweight and abstained from lifetime drinking were three times more likely to develop diabetes compared with normal weight women who consumed seven or less alcohol drinks per week (low-volume). No evidence of reduced risk was found for normal weight or obese women or for men. The study also found that women with a recent history of heavy occasion drinking once a week or more had a 55% increased risk of diabetes onset.
Problem drinkers with friends who drink and who live in poor neighborhoods are more likely to relapse after treatment
February 1, 2018. The number of people in your social network who drink increases the risk of relapse following treatment and this risk is even greater if you live in a disadvantaged neighborhood, even after adjusting for demographic and other risk factors associated with problem drinking.
January 12, 2018. Even one intoxication event can increase the risk of injury, a new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a project of the Public Health institute, found. Injury risk peaked at one hour of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 or higher and remained at about the same level for more frequent heavy drinkers.
Heavy Drinking Patterns Among Young Adults have Changed Over Time with Some Women Drinking More (PDF)
October 31, 2017. According to a new study from the Alcohol Research Group (ARG), a program of the Public Health Institute, when comparing heavy drinking trajectories between two cohorts, trajectories for Hispanics and Whites of both sexes have changed over time. However, Hispanic and White women in the younger cohort saw the greatest increase in heavy drinking compared to other groups.
September 12, 2017. A new study shows a sharp increase in marijuana use in the U.S. since 2005. Marijuana use among women has almost doubled, from 5.5% in 1984 to 10.6% in 2015. Men’s use declined from the 1980s to 2000 but has since increased to 14.7%, matching earlier rates. However, the research suggests that these increases in use were not specifically associated with medicinal or recreational marijuana legalization.
April 12, 2017. People with alcohol use disorders (AUD) who live in poorer neighborhoods in Sweden were less likely to pick up prescriptions to help treat their disease than those living in areas that are more affluent, a new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute found. The study was published online today in the journal Addiction.
February 15, 2017. According to a new national study from the Alcohol Research Group (ARG), a program of the Public Health Institute, 7.4 percent of surveyed respondents reported that children in their care experienced harm as a result of someone else’s drinking.
January 10, 2017. According to a new study, people who used cannabis while undergoing treatment for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) had significantly fewer days of alcohol abstinence at the end of treatment compared with non-cannabis users.
December 8, 2016. Cancer survivors were more likely to report heavy drinking and more frequent heavy drinking occasions compared to others at the same ages with similar drinking histories.
November 14, 2016. County-level suicide rates in the U.S. had a strong positive relationship with county poverty rates, while no relationships were found between county measures of unemployment or foreclosures when poverty rates were controlled.
September 9, 2016. If the vote for marijuana legalization in Washington State were to be held again, Initiative 502 (I-502) would potentially have a stronger majority than it did in November 2012, according to a new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, published today in Contemporary Drug Problems.
June 14, 2016. Discrimination is associated with heavy drinking, drinking-related problems, and greater risk of alcohol use disorders according to new research from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, published online in Social Science & Medicine.
June 9, 2016. An increase in cross-border traffic by Washington State residents to Idaho and Oregon following Washington’s privatization of liquor stores resulted in significant revenue for the two bordering states according to a new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, published online this week in the journal Addiction.release.
2008-2009 recession-related job loss may have led to psychological distress and increased alcohol related problems (PDF)
March 22, 2016. A new study from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health finds individuals who lost their jobs during the 2008-2009 economic recession reported increased drunkenness and reported more alcohol use disorders. This was especially true for African Americans compared to Whites.
February 26, 2016. The socioeconomic makeup of a neighborhood may have a greater influence on people than previously thought, a new national study of alcohol drinkers published in Prevention Science suggests.
Study results showed men who live in affluent neighborhoods held attitudes more favorable to drinking and were more likely to drink heavily and to experience consequences related to alcohol use, such as family problems or getting into fights, than residents of other neighborhoods. The study also found a similar effect on attitudes favorable to drinking for non-White men living in lower income neighborhoods that also resulted in heavier drinking and more alcohol-related problems. However, results showed a protective effect for non-White men living in immigrant neighborhoods; they were less favorable to drinking and therefore experienced fewer alcohol-related problems.
February 24, 2016. The Alcohol Research Group (ARG), a program of the Public Health Institute, is pleased to announce it has received a $7.3M grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to support the continuation of its National Alcohol Research Center. The funds will be dispersed over a five year period beginning 2016 through to 2020.
June 23, 2015. Results of a recent study that looked at the effects of privatization of the sale and distribution of liquor in Washington State found spirit prices increased significantly, while prices in the bordering states of Idaho and Oregon only showed small increases. Averaging across all of the stores selected, Washington liquor prices rose by an average of 15.5% for the 750ml size and by 4.7% for the 1.75L size. However, price changes varied greatly by store type with no increases found for liquor superstores such as Total Wine and More or wholesale stores such as Costco.
The largest price increases were seen at independent liquor stores, most of which bought their licenses at auction. Increased prices were also found at grocery stores and drug stores. Findings of smaller price increases for the 1.75L size and wide differences between store types were surprising and indicate that individuals face different alcoholic beverage prices, even for the same brands, depending on where they live and shop.
Study finds that men who have sex with men (MSM) have an equal or lower risk of hazardous drinking than heterosexual men
April 20, 2015. A new study published today in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that men who have sex with men (MSM)—defined as gay and bisexually identified men as well as heterosexually identified men who had same-sex partners–reported equal or lower levels of hazardous drinking than exclusively heterosexual men.
This finding dispels the popular assumption that men who have sex with men are more likely to consume alcohol above recommended amounts.
The study results also suggest that the protective effect is enhanced for some racial/ethnic groups. Black MSM, for instance, reported a lower likelihood of binge drinking or heavy weekly drinking compared to both heterosexual Black and White men. Latino MSM, however, were more likely to report heavy weekly drinking than their heterosexual Latino peers but had similar risks of binge drinking and heavy daily drinking.
April 14. 2015. Cannabis is the most commonly used drug among adults who drink, besides tobacco, yet no study has directly compared those who use cannabis and alcohol simultaneously, or at the exact same time, versus those who use both separately and on a regular basis. A new study looks at the relationship between marijuana and alcohol use, finding that simultaneous users had double the odds of drunk driving, social consequences, and harms to self.
Results will be published in the May 2015 online-only issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.
January 20, 2015. Black and Hispanic drinkers are more likely to overestimate how much they can safely drink two hours before driving, a new and innovative study examining impairment limits found. The study, to be published on line ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health, determined that, on average and controlling for other factors such as weight, education and drinking history, self-reported impairment thresholds (number of standard drinks one could drink in 2 hours before driving without being impaired) were 30% higher for Black drinkers and 26% higher for Hispanic drinkers than for White drinking drivers. Further, 28% of Black drinkers and 31% of Hispanic drinkers reported 5 or more drinks can be consumed in two hours without their becoming too impaired to get behind the wheel compared to 12% of White drinkers.
International study finds acute alcohol consumption causes higher risk of injury for woman than men.
October 20, 2014. A new study of emergency department patients in 18 countries led by ARG Senior Scientist, Cheryl Cherpitel, made available online by the scientific journal Addiction, shows that the risk of injury caused by acute alcohol consumption is higher for women compared with men. While the risk of injury is similar for both men and women up to three ‘standard’ drinks (containing 16 ml or 12.8 g of pure ethanol), the risk then increases more rapidly for women, becoming twice the risk to men around 15 drinks and three times the risk to men around 30 drinks. In this study the drinks were reportedly consumed within six hours prior to injury. Read more (PDF).
Study finds that alcohol-programming outreach is important to women of color.
July 17, 2014. There has been very little research conducted on racial and ethnic disparities in the utilization of alcohol services and little known about whether such disparities also carry across genders. Sarah E. Zemore, a senior scientist at the Alcohol Research Group and the corresponding author of the study that assessed the combined impact of race/ethnicity and gender on alcohol services utilization, found lower service utilization among Latinos and Blacks, versus Whites, and women, versus men. Such lower utilization rates reveal the difficulty that ethnic minorities and non-English speakers have in accessing treatment services with female Black and Latina drinkers at a greater disadvantage. Read more.
How Much Alcohol Is in Your Drink? Stronger Beers and Wines Make It Harder to Tell.
October 15, 2013. Consumers often don’t know how much alcohol they are actually drinking, according to “The Blurring of Alcohol Categories,” a new report from the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group (ARG) published by the National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association. Many new beer and wine products have increased alcohol content—blurring what were once clear lines between the alcohol content of beer, wine and spirits. Read more.
With problem drinking, where you live may matter.
October 9, 2012. Some people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods may be at increased risk of problem drinking—though much may depend on race and gender, according to a new study by Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, PhD. Read more.
Public Health Institute to Test New Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction in Contra Costa County, California.
January 20, 2010. Methamphetamine use is rapidly increasing and reaching epidemic proportions in certain parts of the country such as the western United States. The addiction afflicts more than 400,000 people in the country and costs society more than $20 billion every year. To test how well a new treatment approach that uses Motivation Enhancement Therapy helps people quit using methamphetamine, researchers at the Alcohol Research Group (of the Public Health Institute) study more than 200 people who are or have recently been dependent on methamphetamine at an alcohol and drug treatment center in Lafayette, California. Read more.