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Past research has shown that an individual’s level of alcohol use may depend on various factors, both genetic and environmental, along with the interaction between them. Several studies have found that certain variants within the GABRA2 gene may be associated with elevated levels of alcohol use. This issue is of particular concern in college campuses, where social pressure becomes an important environmental factor. To better understand how genetic and environmental factors come together to influence substance use and emotional health, a group of students attending Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA submitted DNA samples and answered survey questions as part of the Spit for Science research project. The cohort entered college in the fall of 2011 and took follow-up surveys during the spring of their freshman and sophomore years. A total of one thousand and four participants who reported that they have previously consumed alcohol were asked about the frequency of their alcohol use. Regression analysis was used to examine associations between GABRA2 genotype, peer deviance, and alcohol consumption. We hypothesized that high levels of peer deviance and specific variants within GABRA2 correspond to increased levels of alcohol use. The conclusions of this study can be used to create specific techniques for decreasing alcohol abuse among college students and lead to better understanding of how to create effective treatment and prevention strategies.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Psychology, Biology

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Danielle Dick

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Amy Adkins


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

Is Part Of

VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


© The Author(s)

Examining the Relationship between GABRA2 & Alcohol Drinking Frequency