A new study has found that persons with a low response (LR) level to alcohol are at a greater risks of developing alcohol-use disorders (AUDs).
The research team from University of California, San Diego has found that LR is a unique risk factor for AUDs across adulthood and is not simply a reflection of a broader range of risk factors.
"If a person needs more alcohol to get a certain effect, that person tends to drink more each time they imbibe," said Marc A. Schuckit, director of the Alcohol Research Center, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and corresponding author for the study.
"Other studies we have published have shown that these individuals also choose heavy drinking peers, which helps them believe that what they drink and what they expect to happen in a drinking evening are 'normal'.
"This low LR, which is perhaps a low sensitivity to alcohol, is genetically influenced," he added.
The study involving 297 men between 18 to 25 years showed that a low LR to alcohol predicted AUD occurrence over the course of adulthood even after controlling for the effects of other robust risk factors.
In short, LR is a unique risk factor for AUDs across adulthood, and not simply a reflection of a broader range of risk factors.
"A low LR at age 20 was not just a reflection of being a heavier drinker at age 20 when we tested these men, and it wasn't an artifact of an earlier onset of drinking," said Schuckit.
"We showed that a low LR at 20 predicts later heavy drinking and alcoholism even if you control for all these other predictors of alcohol problems at age 20," he added.
The study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.