News Release

Next-day effects of heavy drinking on young adults the focus of NIH grant

Grant and Award Announcement

Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nausea, headaches and difficulty concentrating are just a few of the hangover symptoms that can besiege young adults who drink alcohol to excess. To gain a greater understanding of how heavy drinking impacts young adults, Ashley Linden-Carmichael, Penn State associate research professor of health and human development, is leading a two-year study funded by a $421,000 grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the National Institutes of Health. She will examine the effects of alcohol use on young adults’ daily cognitive functioning the day after a drinking episode.

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2.4 million adults ages 18-25 reported heavy alcohol use in month prior.

“Since heavy drinking can affect work or school performance, we hope our research will shed a light on who is in need of monitoring and early intervention,” said Linden-Carmichael, who is a multiple-principal investigator on the study.

The researchers will collect intensive self-reported data from 250 young adults over the course of 21 days to explore the effects of alcohol use on cognitive functioning. Participants will be asked to complete brief surveys sent four times per day via text and complete tests to gauge their memory and other cognitive functions.

Analyses will include how much the participants drank the previous day and how long the effects of alcohol use lasted throughout the three weeks of the study. The researchers will also factor in demographic data and whether the participants also used cannabis the previous day.

The research team is also concerned about possible damage to the brain and nervous system caused by drinking over the course of years.

“Depending on findings from our current study, we would like to follow young adults to understand whether the link between alcohol use and cognitive functioning persists over the years — if there is impact on the brain, do these effects accumulate?” Linden-Carmichael asked.

Jacqueline Mogle, associate professor at Clemson University, is multiple-principal investigator on the study with Linden-Carmichael. Stephen Wilson, Penn State professor of psychology, is collaborating on the study.

For more information about the study, visit the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center website.

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