A new study published in the journal Health & Place in March, 2021 explored how neighborhood and social network characteristics are related to adult binge alcohol use.
The study utilized online surveys from adults ages 30 to 80 years, drawn randomly from the RAND American Life Panel. Key findings are as follows:
- Living in a highly cohesive neighborhood reduces the likelihood of binge alcohol use;
- In safe and orderly neighborhoods, people with more interconnected social networks are more likely to consume alcohol “socially” and consume heavily in these occasions, regardless of cohesiveness.
- However, neighborhood and network factors control how often a person might binge on alcohol. This is possibly through neighbors checking up on each other.
- In disordered, unsafe communities that are lacking cohesion, neighborhood factors lose their overall impact. In such neighborhoods people with more interconnected social networks are less likely to engage in binge alcohol use.
The study can help inform interventions to reduce binge or heavy alcohol problems such as cognitive behavioral therapy. These approaches already focus on identifying people and places that trigger binge alcohol use and addressing those triggers with behavioral changes.
The findings show the importance of places beyond a location and social connection in interventions to reduce binge alcohol use.
Because neighborhood and social network factors work in tandem to affect the likelihood of binge [alcohol use] and the frequency of binge [alcohol use], interventions for [alcohol] problem[s] should incorporate both of these aspects to make them more effective,” said Hank Green, study co-author, researcher at Santa Monica, Indiana University, as per Medical Xpress.Hank Green, study co-author, researcher at Santa Monica, Indiana University.