Interaction between ADH1B*3 and alcohol-facilitating social environments in alcohol behaviors among college students of african descent

Jessica M. Desalu, Michelle J. Zaso, Jueun Kim, John M. Belote, Aesoon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Although alcohol-facilitating social environmental factors, such as alcohol offers and high perceived peer drinking norms, have been extensively studied as determinants of college drinking, their role among college students of African descent remains understudied. Furthermore, gene-environment interaction research suggests that the effects of alcohol-facilitating environments may differ as a function of genetic factors. Specifically, the alcohol dehydrogenase gene's ADH1B*3 allele, found almost exclusively in persons of African descent, may modulate the association of risky social environments with alcohol behaviors. The current study examined whether the ADH1B*3 allele attenuated the relationship between alcohol-facilitating environments (ie, alcohol offers and perceived peer drinking norms) and alcohol behaviors. Method: Participants were 241 undergraduate students who self-identified as being of African descent (mean age = 20 years [SD = 4.11]; 66% female). Results: Significant interaction effects of ADH1B*3 with alcohol offers were found on alcohol use frequency (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 1.14) and on drinking consequences (IRR = 1.21). ADH1B*3 also interacted with perceived peer norms on drinking consequences (IRR = 1.41). Carriers of the ADH1B*3 allele drank less frequently and experienced fewer negative consequences than non-carriers when exposed to lower levels of alcohol offers and perceived peer drinking. In contrast, in high alcohol-facilitating environments, no protective genetic effect was observed. Discussion and Conclusion: This study demonstrates that ADH1B*3 may protect college students of African descent against alcohol outcomes, although only in low alcohol-facilitating environments. Scientific Significance: Findings add to the growing body of knowledge regarding genetic and social determinants of alcohol behaviors among college students of African descent. (Am J Addict 2017;26:349–356).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-356
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal on Addictions
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this