Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Program

Alcohol Research Group

Established in 1959, the Alcohol Research Group (ARG), now of the Public Health Institute, conducts and disseminates high-quality research on the epidemiology of alcohol consumption and problems, alcohol health services research, and alcohol policies while also training future generations of alcohol researchers. ARG is also home to the National Alcohol Research Center.

Program Director(s)

Thomas Greenfield

Program Site

http://www.arg.org

Projects

Alcohol's Harms to Others Among US Adults: Individual and Contextual Effects

This survey project would be the first to assess comprehensively the types and seriousness of harms from others’ drinking in the US national adult population. By studying how relationships of victims and perpetrators, neighborhood social and economic factors, and state alcohol policies may add to or reduce risks of heavy drinkers’ harms to families, friends, and strangers, the research will inform prevention planning and generate findings relevant for developing evidence-informed alcohol policies.

12-Step Alternatives and Recovery Outcomes in a Large National Study

Alongside AA, many mutual help groups are now available that help individuals address their substance use problems and can be used before, during, after, and instead of formal treatment. Yet, little is known about the alternatives to AA. The  study would provide much-needed information on the nature and effectiveness of WFS, SMART, LifeRing, and SOS. It could extend the menu of options providers and patients consider, enhancing the likelihood that patients affiliate with a supportive peer network and maintain better outcomes.

Alcohol Use Among Asian American & Young Adults: Do Subgroups Differ?

This study will improve knowledge about Asian American adolescent and young adult drinking and inform effective intervention strategies. It is a secondary analysis of an Asian American sample extracted from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to test hypotheses such as that having low attachment to parents and more close friends who drink are associated with higher alcohol use in adolescence and over time.

Community Impact on Adoption of Sober Living Houses

This study combined quantitative and qualitative methodologies to understand community influences on the adoption of the promising innovation of sober living houses. Particular focus was on one community where it was successfully established. Translating promising interventions into community services requires demonstrating positive outcomes and consideration of the knowledge, attitudes and perceived barriers for various stakeholders.

Cross-National Analysis of Alcohol & Injury

This project continues the analysis of data from the 12-site World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborative Study on Alcohol and Injuries and the 33-site Emergency Room Collaborative Alcohol Analysis Project. Analysis will explore the association of alcohol and injury with contextual variables and gaps in this research identified at a WHO-sponsored international conference on alcohol and injury.

Drinking Patterns & Ethnicity: Impact on Mortality Risks

This project conducts a secondary analysis of existing data to enhance understanding of patterns of alcohol consumption and the epidemiology of alcohol-related problems and mortality. Objectives include addressing risk and protective factors in the U.S. population and in white, black and Hispanic subpopulations of both genders.

Effects of Disadvantage and Protective Resources on Alcohol-Related Disparities

The primary objective of this study is to describe and explain racial disparities in both heavy drinking and alcohol problems at equivalent levels of consumption. The conceptual approach recognizes that racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. are differentially exposed to economic, social and neighborhood disadvantages, and draws on recent theoretical work suggesting that cumulative exposure to disadvantage may play a significant role in understanding health disparities.

Effects of Spirits Privatization on Alcohol Prices and Alcohol-Related Harms

This project will track implementation of regulations, revenues and prices and use state-representative surveys of Washington drinkers and residents to evaluate changes in drinking, purchasing, problems, attitudes and experiences following privatization and other subsequent changes. Results will inform debates on government control of alcohol sales, relevant to 18 remaining control states, and on the three-tier system and alcohol taxation relevant to all US states.

Epidemiology of Alcohol Problems/National Alcohol Research Center

The goal of the National Alcohol Research Center is to explore relationships between well-characterized drinking patterns and numerous highly specific problems, as well as to look at conditions such as drug taking, disability, poverty and access to services. The Alcohol Research Group addresses emerging topics that are crucial policy concerns such as interpersonal violence and health-related harms.

Epidemiology of Drinking and Disorders among Mexican-Origin Adults in Border and Non-Border Contexts

This research aims to describe and explain alcohol use patterns and related problems among Mexican-origin adults living in three pairs of sister metropolitan areas at the Texas-Mexico border, plus, as a contrast, in one adjacent non-border metropolitan area on each side of the border.

Gender, Alcohol and Culture: Secondary Data Analysis

The project supports the re-analysis of GENACIS (Gender, Alcohol, and Culture: Secondary Data Analysis) data. Areas of involvement include the initial scale development tasks as well as analyses related to risk curves, societal and demographic influences, drinking contexts and informal social pressures.

Identifying Modifiable Influences on Alcohol Problems in High-Risk Neighborhoods

This study develops and tests a socioecological model of relapse and recovery from alcohol problems to describe how neighborhood, social network and individual factors independently and interactively predict relapse and recovery from alcohol problems and dependence.

Impact of Services on Problem Drinking Trajectories

This study looks at patterns of alcohol consumption and related problems over a seven-year trajectory, in treated and untreated problem drinkers from the same community. Drinking problems are increasingly viewed as chronic, cyclical and relapsing. The study addresses the roles that a wide spectrum of health and human services plays over the trajectory.

Increasing the Public's Awareness of Childhood Cancers

As a part of the CureSearch for Children's Cancer, this project develops a sustainable, easy to navigate website for patient/family/community describing psychosocial issues for families affected by childhood cancer. This will be the premier site to help families and their extended social network during the experience of cancer from diagnosis through treatment, survivorship or bereavement.

Intensive Motivational Interviewing for Methamphetamine Dependence

This study tests the efficacy of a promising nine-session model of motivational interviewing (MI) for methamphetamine dependence. Methamphetamine use is rapidly increasing and in some areas, such as the Western U.S., is reaching epidemic proportions. Prior studies found higher doses of MI were associated with better outcomes, and may be a useful approach for this population.

Inter-Relationships Between Life-Course Alcohol Patterns and Health Conditions

New analyses of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) 1979 and 1997 cohorts and of the 2010 National Alcohol Survey (NAS) are examining: (1) effects of heart disease/heart problems, hypertension, diabetes, cancers and stroke as well as alcohol-attributable health problems on alcohol consumption;  (2) influences of alcohol use and childhood adversity on onset of health conditions; and (3) effects of alcohol use patterns, childhood and adult adversity, and economic impacts of the 2008-09 recession on self-reported general health status.

 

Interaction of Mental Health and Social Support on Drug Relapse in Recovery Homes

The study's findings will result in immediate, practical implications for over 500 sober living houses (SLHs) in California and 1,200 Oxford Houses in the U.S. The study will: track drug-dependent individuals' psychiatric symptoms; identify factors that moderate the influence of psychiatric symptoms; identify how trajectories of mental health symptoms among methamphetamine-dependent individuals differ from those dependent on other substances; and examine mental health symptoms of drug-dependent persons in the community rather than in formal treatment.

Moderators of Motivation to Maintain Sobriety Over 18 Months

This project is studying how motivation to maintain sobriety is associated with abstinence and reduced substance use over 18 months among individuals entering sober living recovery homes. Findings will add substantitvely to our knowledge about how motivation impacts the recovery process over time in the community.

Multi-Level Analyses to Explain Substance Abuse Treatment Gaps

Using secondary data analyses of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) and the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (NLAES), this project studies the interaction of individual factors with societal and health system factors (such as state policies, public financing, health system organization and area socioeconomic characteristics) on state variations in substance abuse treatment needs and utilization.

Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Alcohol Outcomes: Moderators and Mediators

The study conducts a secondary analysis of data from the 2000 and 2005 National Alcohol Surveys (conducted by the Alcohol Research Group) linked with data from the 2000 US Census to examine whether, for whom and how neighborhood socioeconomic status is associated with alcohol use and alcohol problems.

Preparing a Computerized Tool for Preventing Prenatal Drinking for a Larger Trial

Heavy drinking by women of childbearing age increases risk for unplanned pregnancy, for drinking during pregnancy and for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in their infants. This research is studying a recently piloted, self-administered, computerized tool for reducing prenatal drinking that adds novel elements of drink size assessment and drink size feedback to traditional screening and brief intervention (SBI). Findings will help design a larger, rigorous trial of electronic SBI's efficacy for reducing prenatal alcohol use.

 

Racial Disparities in Access to Appropriate Alcohol Treatment Services

This study strives to identify gaps in the delivery of appropriate alcohol treatment services to racial/ethnic minority populations, and to better understand how disparities in access to appropriate care impact these groups' chances for recovery from alcohol problems. The project is based on secondary analyses of NIAAA's National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

Randomized Trial of Intensive MI to Improve Drinking Among Women

This study aims to improve drinking outcomes among women using a recently developed intensive model of motivational interviewing (IMI).  Unlike standard motivational interviewing (MI), which typically consists of 1–2 sessions at the beginning of treatment, IMI consists of 9 sessions delivered concurrently with standard outpatient treatment.

 

Reducing Offenders' HIV Risk: MI Enhanced Case Management with Drug-Free Housing

HIV risk among criminal justice offenders is high. Rates of infection are up to 10 times higher than the general population. Drug-free housing will be accessed through the Sober Living Network (SLN). Our recent study of SLHs showed criminal justice offenders fared worse than other residents and HIV issues were not assessed. Expanding on our current HIV service grants, we will use motivational interviewing (MI) case management to address HIV risk and the mix of factors that increase risk.

Revenues from Alcoholic Beverages

ARG is collecting data from all states on revenues, tax rate, sales and per capita consumption of beer, wine and spirits for the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association's project Revenues from Alcoholic Beverages.

Screening and Brief Intervention in the Emergency Department among Mexican-origin Young Adults

This project aims to 1) examine the effectiveness of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) among Mexican-origin young adults in Emergency Departments at the U.S.-Mexico border and 2) identify variables that are related to the effectiveness of the intervention and that predict successful treatment outcomes.

Sexual Orientation and Correlates of Alcohol Problems

This project furthers understanding of the increased risk for hazardous alcohol use, alcohol-related problems and drug use among sexual minorities, which is especially pronounced among women. Understanding factors that increase or buffer risk for hazardous drinking among sexual minorities (and non-minorities) will inform culturally and gender-appropriate prevention and intervention strategies.

Sexual Orientation Differences: Prevalence and Correlates of Substance Use and Abuse

The study addresses gaps identified in two recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports related to sexual minority health. It will provide a more nuanced understanding of factors that mediate and moderate substantially higher rates of hazardous drinking and substance use among sexual minority women. This is critical to the development of culturally appropriate prevention and treatment interventions. 

 

 

Testing Medical Marijuana's Unintended Consequences for Youth and Young Adults

This project will investigate if medical marijuana laws affect drug-related attitudes, consumption and problems among adolescents and young adults. Analyses will draw upon data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health with original data collection on the passage and characteristics of state medical marijuana legislations, state political views, and organization of state alcohol and drug treatment systems.

Understanding Racial Disparities in Heavy Drinking Over the Life Course

This study will describe racial disparities in prolonged heavy drinking and persistent alcohol problems in a nationally representative sample of Americans followed from adolescence to middle age. The study will identify lifecourse socioeconomic factors that increase risk for these adverse alcohol outcomes, and assess the extent to which racial disparities in these outcomes are explained by differential exposure to, and consequences of, these risk factors.  Study results will help to inform interventions targeted to different periods of the lifecourse, which can help to reduce racial alcohol-related disparities.

 

 

What Is Recovery?

Alcoholics who no longer drink, and are trying to pursue an improved way of living/being, say that they are "in recovery," and the term is widely used in alcohol use research. Yet despite its seeming centrality, there is no agreed upon definition of the term within the alcohol literature. This study aims to develop a Recovery Scale that is based on how people who have been through the experience of recovery define the term, and to correlate thresholds for which the probability of continued abstinence is increased.

When Does Pressure Facilitate Help Seeking? 25-Year Trends and Correlates

This study uses data from the National Alcohol Survey collected at six different points over a 25-year period to describe the patterns of pressure that drinkers received from family, friends, physicians and the workplace to "drink less or act differently," and examines how such pressure was related to seeking and not seeking help.