College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Supersized Alcopops Linked to Homelessness and Gang Affiliation, New Regulation Needed

October 14, 2020   /   by Danielle Hawkins

New George Mason University study of adults on probation uncovers higher levels of hostility and risk-taking among recent consumers of these high alcohol content flavored beverages

Supersized alcopops are single-serving flavored beverages with very high alcohol content. Consumption of these drinks is linked to dangerous consequences such as blacking out, vomiting, being injured or worse, and they are popular among underage drinkers, which is where prior research has typically focused.

However, supersized alcopops can be dangerous for everyone – regardless of age. New research led by George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services was the first to examine individual factors linked to recent consumption of supersized alcopops among adults on probation. The study was published today in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Dr. Matthew Rossheim led the study that found that among adults on probation, those who were gang-affiliated or recently experienced homelessness were far more likely to have recently consumed supersized alcopops in the past 30 days.

Among those who experienced homelessness, 30% consumed supersized alcopops, compared to 11% of those who did not experience homelessness. Further, 57% of those who were gang-affiliated reported consuming a supersized alcopop within the past 30 days compared to 11% of those who were not gang-affiliated.

Adults on probation who had consumed supersized alcopops in the past 30 days had higher scores for hostility and risk-taking, and lower scores for self-esteem on the Criminal Justice Client Evaluation of Self and Treatment Intake (CJ-CEST) than non-consumers.

The researchers surveyed 253 adults (70% male) on probation in two large metropolitan areas: Baltimore City, MD and Dallas, TX who reported heavy drinking or any illicit drug use in the past 90 days.

“The marketing and retail availability of these products may be creating and perpetuating health disparities, by targeting historically disenfranchised communities,” explains Rossheim. “Better regulation of supersized alcopop marketing is urgently needed to reduce dangerous alcohol consumption—particularly among high-risk groups, including people who are homeless, gang members, and display more hostility and risk-taking traits.”

This research was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health under award number R01 DA029010 (Walters, Taxman). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia's largest and most diverse public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. For more information, visit https://www2.gmu.edu/.

About the College of Health and Human Services

George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services prepares students to become leaders and shape the public's health through academic excellence, research of consequence, community outreach, and interprofessional clinical practice. George Mason is the fastest-growing Research I institution in the country. The College enrolls 1,918 undergraduate and 1,371 graduate students in its nationally-recognized offerings, including: 5 undergraduate degrees, 13 graduate degrees, and 7 certificate programs. The college is transitioning to a college public health in the near future. For more information, visit https://chhs.gmu.edu/.

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