Dr. Sarah Brislin, postdoctoral research fellow in the U-M Addiction Center, and colleagues recently published their paper "Alcohol expectancies mediate the association between the neural response to emotional words and alcohol consumption" in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Says Dr. Brislin: "When feeling upset, people often reach for a drink with the hope that it will make them feel better and improve their mood. Our research found that weaker activation in a region of the brain thought to help us regulate our emotions was associated with increased risk of drinking, particularly in people that believe that drinking will help improve their mood.
These findings point to specific treatment targets - addressing alcohol expectancies and increasing emotion regulation- that may decrease future alcohol use. Two treatments offered at the University of Michigan, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for substance use and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, have been found to alter alcohol expectancies and increase emotion regulation skills."