Emotion Regulation Interventions for Preventing Collegiate Escalations in Drinking

  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Connecticut
Updated on 18 August 2022


In the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), college aged respondents between 18 and 25 years old reported the highest alcohol use rates (over 58%) as well as the highest rates of binge drinking of any age group. High alcohol use/abuse in college students is associated with myriad negative consequences, including fatal and nonfatal injuries and overdoses, impaired academic and vocational performance, violence and other crime, legal problems, unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and social problems. The National Comorbidity Survey underscores that use initiated in this period is not just experimental and recreational but may have lasting effects on consumption trajectories: For the majority of adults diagnosed alcohol use disorders, onset occurred during emerging adulthood. During this stage of development, vast changes in emotion regulation (ER) take place, particularly age-related shifts in the strategies used to manage distress that may lead to alcohol use/abuse (i.e., emotion suppression, inhibitory control, and cognitive reappraisal. Substantial evidence suggests that deficits in ER are strongly related to patterns of alcohol use in young adults. In particular, deficits in the self regulation of discomfort and distress, called distress tolerance, predict alcohol use - specifically, motivation and urgency for use, escalations in consumption, and the development of dependence that may be indicative of alcohol use disorders. Emerging adults who turn to alcohol as a way of coping with distressing emotions are most at risk for heavy alcohol use into adulthood and more severe negative alcohol consequences. Given the variable effectiveness of existing approaches for reducing college students' alcohol use, The investigators contend that interventions may be differentially effective depending on individual characteristics. In particular, students with difficulties in managing distress and discomfort may benefit from more intensive interventions that promote effective ER compared to treatment as usual; further, other background characteristics may predict the efficacy and acceptability of each type of ER intervention. In this R34, investigators will test the acceptability/ feasibility and preliminary efficacy of two complementary interventions (Yoga and Distress Tolerance) on preventing alcohol use in a randomized controlled trial of 180 high-risk college students relative to treatment as usual. Investigators will assess participants' alcohol use (self-report and biomarker measures) and emotion regulation (ER) at baseline along with physiological discomfort sensitivity and psychosocial predictors of treatment efficacy over time, including a post-treatment follow-up. Study aims include:

  1. Test feasibility/acceptability of two ER interventions among high-risk emerging adults by documenting rates of recruitment, retention, adherence, and satisfaction.
  2. Examine trends in intervention acceptability based on baseline characteristics (i.e., associations between participant retention and participant-rated acceptability and age, gender, family characteristics/dynamics, and predispositions to discomfort tolerance).
  3. Test preliminary efficacy of the ER interventions on measures of ER and alcohol use. Hypothesis: Participants in both intervention groups will see greater improvements in ER and alcohol use outcomes compared to the TAU control group.

Condition Alcohol abuse, Alcohol Dependence, Alcohol Use Disorder
Treatment Yoga, Distress Tolerance
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04492982
SponsorUniversity of Connecticut
Last Modified on18 August 2022

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