Baltimore Sun

Research finds lonely childhoods could make adult drinking issues more likely


Having friends in childhood may help keep you sober as a young adult, new research suggests.

Researcher­s from Arizona State University interviewe­d more than

300 college students who participat­ed in assessment­s that focused on childhood loneliness, stress levels and drinking behaviors. The results determined there was a link between feelings of loneliness in their pre-adolescent years and current drinking and stress levels.

“In young adults, childhood loneliness before age 12 was associated with perceived stress right now and affected dysregulat­ed drinking,” said study author Julie Patock-Peckham, an assistant research professor in ASU’s Department of Psychology.

The research predicts a grim future as alcohol usage continues to increase across the country. More women are turning to drink, according to data from the U.S. National Institutes of Health that found that alcohol use in women is more likely to result in higher rates of alcohol abuse than it does in men. Another study found that the pandemic was responsibl­e for a surge in drinking rates by as much as 14% in adults older than 30.

“The data used in this study were collected before the pandemic, and the findings suggest that we could have another public health crisis on our hands in a few years as today’s children grow up,” Patock-Peckham said.

The researcher­s only found an associatio­n between child loneliness and later alcohol trends, not a cause-and-effect link.

The study, funded by the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, was published online in the journal Addictive Behaviors Reports.


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