GRANT NUMBER:  R01 AA021165-02S1

ABSTRACT:  Alcohol and other drug use increases dramatically in the college years, a period in which the brain completes development and aspects of personality mature. Alcohol continues to be the most popular drug among adolescents, with 58.7% of University of Iowa (UI) freshmen reporting drinking 5 or more drinks on one occasion in the past 2 weeks (NCHA, 2013). A growing subset of students engage in “extreme bingeing”, drinking two or three times more on one occasion than the standard definition of bingeing. Further, many teen drinkers also use marijuana (MJ), contributing to frequent comorbidity between alcohol and MJ use disorders. Indeed, MJ is the second most popular drug and is on the rise in teens, with 29% of UI students reporting use in the past month. We recently received NIAAA funding to assess the relationship of typical and extreme bingeing to measures of brain function and structure as well as to measures of aspects of personality and mental abilities related to alcohol use disorders in college students (R01AA021165-01A1 “The Relationship of Adolescent Binge Drinking to Measures of Brain and Behavior” O’Leary PI). Developmentally early alcohol use is a risk factor for alcohol dependence and we will recruit half of the bingeing students who have a pre-college drinking history and half who begin heavy drinking in college. To more accurately assess the effects of alcohol on the developing brain we are recruiting binge drinkers who have limited use of MJ and other drugs in the ongoing study, which is the parent grant for the present Administrative Supplement application (PA-13-275). The parent grant will recruit 4 groups of 30 binge drinkers (early vs. college onset bingeing and typical vs. extreme bingers) and 30 controls, all of whom who infrequently use MJ. The supplement will allow recruitment of regular, heavy MJ users who also binge drink. MJ use before the age of 17 years has been strongly related to cognitive impairment1, and few studies have assessed the effects of early vs. later onset of MJ use in conjunction with binge drinking. We will, therefore, assess 2 groups of 30 MJ use/binge drinkers, half who began MJ use before age 17 and half who initiate MJ use in college. High levels of impulsivity (IMP) (i.e., a lack of self-control) and sensation seeking (SS) (i.e., seeking out novel experiences) have been found in numerous studies to increase the likelihood of problematic alcohol and other drug use. Our approach will be to assess IMP and SS using fMRI brain activation patterns, brain connectivity, and behavioral measures. Primary hypotheses are that IMP and SS will be strongly associated with variance in alcohol and MJ use, and that an early age of first drug use as well as using MJ plus bingeing will be associated with greater impairment on the brain and behavioral measures. The long-term goal of the project is to increase knowledge of the factors that are mostly strongly related to alcohol and MJ use in order to develop more effective diagnostic and treatment approaches.


Back to the CRAN funded Research Portfolio