MU researchers develop new framework for alcohol use disorder

Researchers from the University of Missouri have developed a new framework that they believe will better help people previously overlooked for alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Led by Cassie Boness, PhD, a former graduate student at MU in the Department of Psychological Sciences, the framework was published in Psychological Bulletin. 

The Etiologic, Theory-based, Ontogenetic Hierarchical Framework (ETOH Framework) of AUD mechanisms outlines areas of cognitive control, reward, negative valence, and emotionality, each of which include narrower, hierarchically organized components.

Researchers conducted a systematic review of 144 reviews to integrate addiction constructs and theories into a comprehensive framework to identify fundamental mechanisms implicated in AUD.

In addition, the research team outlined opponent processes and self-awareness as key agents of AUD and recommended an increased conceptual role for negative valence and compulsion in AUD. Their aim was to identify the causal factors implicated in AUD by synthesizing key findings into a comprehensive etiologic framework.

According to the research, this framework serves as a starting point for additional research and offers implications for the diagnosis and treatment of AUD.

As integrative practitioners continue to see an uptick in addictions and mental health issues due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they can reference this framework to identify and assess AUD risk factors in their patients.