Cincy Science: Local researchers are testing a computer program for people who drink to ease anxiety

CINCINNATI - Ever ask, "What is that?" Or, "Why is that?" In our "Cincy Science" feature, we talk with people who can answer those questions: The folks who do science in Cincinnati and the Tri-State.

You have a problem. Social situations make you nervous, invariably leading you to drink too much. Don’t decide to take a pass on that party just yet, the solution may be as simple as accessing your computer, tablet or smart phone.

Grant recipients Miami University and University of Cincinnati will conduct a clinical trial to evaluate a new computer program designed to help people develop healthy mental habits related to alcohol and social anxiety. 

The Attention Modification Program (AMP) attempts to change what individual’s focus their attention on in daily circumstances.

Joshua Magee, principle investigator for the UC trial, explained the how the program retrains the subconscious to better react to both issues.


What are the links between social anxiety and problem drinking?

We think that attention functions in a very similar way for both problems. One of the reasons we chose to do both of them together is that, we do end up seeing a lot of interconnection among the two problems.

For example, a lot of people may drink to deal with their anxiety about social situations. They may drink so that they more comfortably may enter those social situations or afterwards when they are worrying about what they said or how they were perceived. 

So one of the questions we’re also interested in is whether receiving training for both types of problems could have positive effects above and beyond either training, given that the problems can be interrelated.

Are you still looking for study participants?

We are still looking. We have currently worked with about 50 individuals and we’re aiming for a total of 80 by the end of the project. With any type of problem, if you already knew the answer you wouldn’t have to do the research, but there are a lot of reasons to be excited about it.

For more information about the trial, call 866-267-5165 or email

WCPO Insiders can read the full Q&A and learn more about the links between social anxiety and alcohol and how the researchers believe their computer program can help.


To continue reading: Subscribe Now or