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Impulsivity Increases Risk of Early Death in People with Alcohol Use Disorder

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A new study suggests that people with alcohol use disorders who show signs of being impulsive are more likely to die within the next 15 years than those who act less rash. However, having a strong social support network decreases the risk of dying at a younger age among those who are excessive risk-takers, Science Daily reports.

The study of 515 men and women seeking help for alcohol-related problems found those who scored higher on a measure of impulsivity were at increased risk of dying within the next 15 years, even when factors including severity of alcohol use, physical health problems and stress were taken into account. Those who had a high level of social support were at lower risk of dying within 15 years than those who did not have such a support network, the researchers report in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Lead researcher Daniel Blonigen, PhD, said, “What seemed important was the strength of friendship, the degree of trust and the ability to confide. The numbers of friends didn’t make much difference.” He added the findings “reaffirm the importance of measuring and emphasizing the social support network in alcohol treatment programs.”

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