Association of Physical Activity with Alcohol Abuse and Dependence in a Nationally-Representative U.S. Sample

April Joy Damian, Tamar Mendelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Alcohol use is a pervasive and costly public health problem in the United States. Relapse rates from alcohol use disorders are high. Although exercise has been proposed as a strategy to prevent relapse, lifestyle modification is the least studied aspect of relapse prevention programs, especially among racial/ethnic minority populations.Objective: The current study assessed whether being physically active was associated with remission from alcohol abuse or dependence among Black (African American and Afro Caribbean) adults in the U.S.Method: We utilized data on Black adult participants (n = 4,828) from the nationally representative National Survey of American Life (NSAL) conducted in 2001–2003. Logistic regression models were estimated to assess the odds of being in 12-month remission or currently meeting DSM-IV criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence based on level of physical activity, adjusting for socio-demographic and neighborhood characteristics.Results: People who endorsed being physically active had higher odds of being in 12-month remission from alcohol use problems (OR: 1.67, 95% CI: 1.28, 2.17) than people who were physically inactive, adjusting for individual- and neighborhood-level characteristics. People who were physically active did not differ significantly from those who were inactive with respect to odds of currently meeting DSM-IV criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence.Conclusions/Importance: Physical activity was positively associated with being in 12-month remission from alcohol use problems. Longitudinal studies are needed to establish temporal ordering and to explore exercise as a potential relapse prevention strategy for alcohol use problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jul 10 2017



  • alcohol abuse and dependence relapse prevention racial/ethnic minorities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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