CMU researcher awarded $1.9 million NIH grant to study effects of alcohol in young adults

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The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded Carnegie Mellon University's Kasey Creswell a five-year, $1.9 million grant to study the effects of alcohol in young adults.

Recent research suggests that one in eight adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Nearly 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.

Understanding why some individuals develop AUD while others do not will help develop more effective, evidence-based interventions that address specific risk vulnerabilities.

"People respond to alcohol differently, and these differences may tell us something important about individuals' risks for developing alcohol use disorder. By having participants consume alcohol in a tightly controlled laboratory environment, we will be able to examine alcohol's effects on cognition and emotion," said Creswell, assistant professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Creswell's research aims to predict the development of AUD symptoms from participants' responses to alcohol in the lab. It will be the first to evaluate how lab-based findings translate to risk processes outside of the laboratory by assessing drinking experiences in daily life using surveys sent to participants' smartphones.

"Findings from this study will be clinically meaningful," Creswell said. "We will be able to identify specific mechanisms of risk that can be targeted in AUD prevention and treatment programs."

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