Spotlight on Clinical Research:

Finding New Ways to Handle Alcohol Dependency and Stress

The American Psychological Association shows that 50 to 58% of Americans report feeling stressed or very stressed. This time of year can be especially stressful due to long, dark days and the hustle and bustle surrounding the holidays.

Stress increases the risk of a number of mental and physical conditions, which in turn increases the risk of chronic disease. Research has shown that stress also encourages addictive behaviors and poor lifestyle choices by disrupting brain function that is related to self-control, decision making, and normal healthy desire.

Dr. Rajita Sinha, director of the Yale Stress Center, has conducted research showing that addiction itself debilitates our ability to handle stress.  Together with her colleagues, she is working to develop new prevention and treatment strategies to reduce the harmful effects of stress, alcohol and drugs on health and increase our ability to handle stress.

The Yale Stress Center provides state-of-the art treatment for a variety of stress-related conditions and develops and tests novel treatments to reverse the destructive effects of stress. Some of the research studies currently being conducted at the Center include:

•    A clinical study for alcohol-dependent individuals who want to cut back or abstain from drinking. This study involves prazosin, a medication that has been used to treat blood pressure, and may help improve working memory and one’s ability to focus. “We’ve shown that it also decreases the motivation and craving for alcohol as well,” said Dr Sinha. Individuals who are 18 to 60 years old who want to cut back or stop consuming alcohol and are not taking medication to treat diabetes, high blood pressure or certain other conditions may be eligible to participate in this 12-week study.
•    A clinical study for adults ages 18 to 45 who are slightly overweight. This study examines the mechanism of response to stress and emotional arousal and what happens to stress hormones in response to food intake. Snacks are provided. The study involves four sessions and a blood test.
•    Parenting Mindfully for Health, a study for parents of toddlers ages two to five who are feeling stressed and would like to make better decisions for their family, especially food and health-related choices. This is an 8-week study that involves nutrition and exercise counseling. Compensation for child care is provided.

Scheduling for all of these studies is flexible and compensation and bonuses are offered. For more information or to find out how to participate, call 1-888-Y-STRESS (1-888-978-7377) or email stress@yale.edu.