It doesn't take stacks of research to demonstrate that medicating painful feelings with alcohol or drugs is a dangerous and ultimately futile strategy (although those studies do exist). But the relationship between emotional difficulties and alcohol addiction has always been a complex one, in a chicken-and-egg way: does alcohol -- a depressive agent -- make people who use it become depressed? Or are depressed people more likely to drink heavily to self-medicate, and then to become dependent on alcohol?
One of those studies -- published online this week by the journal JAMA Psychiatry -- uses brain scanners to help tease out a possible "biomarker" for the most stubborn forms of alcoholism, and finds one that implicates mood as a key factor.
The other, published in JAMA Psychiatry, is much more low-tech: In face-to-face interviews, researchers asked people who were at higher than usual risk of alcoholism whether they drank to improve their mood or to calm down, and then went back two to four years later and looked at who had become, or stayed, alcohol-dependent. > > > > Read More