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ETSU funds study of adolescence and alcohol-use disorder

Contributed • Updated Jan 12, 2018 at 7:59 PM

Dr. Gerald Deehan Jr., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at East Tennessee State University, is the recipient of a new grant that will examine adolescence as a susceptible period for the development of an alcohol-use disorder.

The grant, titled “The Enduring Behavioral and Neurobiological Effects of Conditioned Cues Associated with Alcohol Use,” is funded by the university’s Research Development Committee. It will focus on how conditioned cues that are associated with alcohol drinking during adolescence affect alcohol drinking later in life.

“A large majority of individuals suffering from alcohol-use disorders report having initiated the consumption of alcohol during the adolescent period,” Deehan says. “Furthermore, one of the most significant factors leading to relapse, for someone trying to maintain abstinence from alcohol, is exposure to alcohol-related stimuli or cues.”

Deehan is working to establish an associative learning model in which flavored alcohol solutions are presented throughout adolescence. Then he will assess the power of those flavor cues to affect alcohol consumption during adulthood.

Grants awarded by the ETSU Research Development Committee support and encourage research in the sciences and non-sciences, including the humanities and the fine and performing arts.

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