The relationship between stressful life situations and changes in alcohol consumption in a general population sample

Br J Addict. 1991 Feb;86(2):157-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.1991.tb01766.x.


Studies on the relationship between stressful life situations and alcohol consumption have almost exclusively been based on retrospective information from clinical populations. We conducted multiple regression analyses of the relationship between presumed stressful life conditions in 1965, life events during 1966-73 and psychosocial factors and amount of increase or decrease in alcohol consumption from 1965 to 1974 adjusting for age, alcohol consumption, education and health status in 1965. Data from surveys in 1965 and in 1974 in a general population sample of 4,864 subjects from Alameda County, California were used. The magnitude of the associations between the presumed stressful life situations and amount of change was generally low, although a few were statistically significant. However, among those aged 65 years and above, and especially among men, some of the associations were strong, but imprecise due to the low number of subjects in those ages. While a number of variables were associated with increase or decrease in alcohol consumption, the R2-values indicated that these variables explained little of the variation over time in alcohol consumption. Thus, people in general seem to cope with stressful life situations by means, other than a longstanding increase in alcohol consumption.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological* / drug effects
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment