Monday, October 13, 2008

Does Drinking Reduce Stress?

For centuries, people have used alcohol to relieve stress—that is, the interpretation of an event as signaling harm, loss, or threat. The organism usually responds to stress with a variety of behavioral, biological, and cognitive changes. Alcohol consumption can result in a stressresponse dampening (SRD) effect, which can be assessed using various measures. Numerous individual differences and situational factors help determine the extent to which a person experiences SRD after consuming alcohol. Individual differences include a family history of alcoholism, personality traits, extent of self-consciousness, cognitive functioning, and gender. situational factors influencing alcohol’s SRD effect include distractions during a stressful sit uation and the timing of drinking and stress. The attention-allocation model and the appraisal disruption model have been advanced to explain the influence of those situational factors. KEYWORDS: AOD (alcohol or other drug) use; psychological stress; tension reduction theory; family AODU (AOD use, abuse, and dependence) history; personality trait; cognition; gender differences; context dynamics; temporal context; theoretical model; literature review. Michael A. Sayette, Ph.D.


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