Individual differences in the impact of stress on alcohol use, binge drinking, and alcohol use onset: The role of developmental and biological variation



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Previous research suggests that both distal and proximal environmental stressors impact later alcohol use behaviors. Introduction of the stress sensitization hypothesis has highlighted that the effects of these environmental stressors may not be limited to direct effects but, rather, are interactive wherein the impact of proximal life stress are greater for individuals who have experienced distal stress such as childhood abuse (ExE). At the same time, gene-environment (GxE) interaction studies have examined how the effects of both distal and environmental stress is moderated by genetic polymorphisms in two-way interactions. The current study seeks to add to a small body of literature seeking to merge these two processes by examining a genetically moderated stress sensitization hypothesis (GxExE) on alcohol use, binge drinking, and alcohol use onset. The current dissertation further contributes to this body of literature by assessing gender-specific GxExE effects and presenting preliminary models gender-specific alcohol dependence and the role of sex-role identification in alcohol use, binge drinking, and alcohol use onset. Mixed results concerning the serotonergic polymorphisms, MAOA and 5-HTTLPR, two-way and three-way interactions with distal and proximal environmental stress were found. These findings and implications for programming designed to reduce alcohol use are discussed.



Childhood abuse, Stress, Stress sensitization, MAOA, 5-HTTLPR, Alcohol use, Binge drinking, Alcohol use onset