Resilience: A Small, Quiet Word with Huge Alcohol Use Disorder Implications


Newswise — Certain personality traits – such as disinhibition (a lack of restraint) and impulsivity – increase the chances of developing alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Conversely, personality traits such as low neuroticism and high conscientiousness can contribute to resilience, which is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity and is protective against AUDs. This study looks at the relationship between resilience and AUDs, and how genetics or the environment may influence that relationship.

Researchers used personal interviews to assess resilience in 1,653,721 Swedish men, ages 17–25 years, and identified AUDs from Swedish medical, legal, and pharmacy registries. Analyses considered the relationship between resilience and AUDs, and how it might be linked to common genetic or environmental factors.

Results showed that resilience greatly reduced the risk of developing AUDs. Specifically, all five items that comprised resiliency – social maturity, interest, psychological energy, home environment, and emotional control – reduced risk, with social maturity having the strongest effect. Further, the relationship between resilience and AUD was largely attributable to overlapping genetic and shared environmental factors. These findings suggest that the relationship between resilience and AUD is not a causal one, but can be better explained by common genetic and environmental influences on drinking behavior.

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