Article Review: Kentucky Drinking at All-Time High

The holiday season represents a celebratory time for most Americans, and celebrations occur with friends and family alike. It can be a joyous time for many, but an emotionally challenging time for others. During this time many chose to engage in social drinking as part of the holiday festivities. It’s important to keep in mind that drinking even in a social setting comes with a social responsibility to understand the repercussions of one’s behavior and the risks associated with drinking.


The Centers for Disease Control conducted a study of the harmful impact of alcohol from 2006-2010 across the United States. That same study found that 1,356 Kentuckians suffered from alcohol-attributable related deaths (“Alcohol and Your Health,” 2018). Binge drinking in the State of Kentucky is at an all-time high. Kentucky ranks third in the nation with the number of heavy drinking episodes by people who reported being binge drinkers. (Estep, 2018) These statistics offer a sobering viewpoint to a widespread issue in the region. It’s also important to be mindful of the proclivity to indulge in drinking during the holiday for even the most moderate drinkers.


Examining a study conducted (2005) by Peterson, Morey, and Higgins allows one to gain the perspective of how social context leads to alcohol consumption (Peterson, Morey, & Higgins, 2005). This study included 60 drinkers who were assessed by the NEO-FFI. The 20 highest and ten lowest drinkers were oversampled 2:1 to ensure a moderate distribution of social drinking behavior. (Peterson et al., 2005, p. 26)


The results of this study indicated that individuals who drink socially tend to drink as much as their peers, especially if they are agreeable, sociable, positive, and open people (Peterson et al., 2005, p. 27) Thus, people who tend to pay attention to their social setting and peers, drink more either unconsciously or consciously in order to accommodate that milieu. Less open and agreeable people tend to ignore their social environment and go their own way. This study makes it apparent that social context plays an enormous role in the regulation of drinking behavior among non-alcoholic social drinkers.


The danger of overindulgence during the holidays whether it be eating, spending, drinking, is a real possibility for all of us. The reality is that some behaviors even if deemed ok by societal standards can still leave us vulnerable to chaos. Alcohol is one widely accepted societal practice that can impact every one of us in a negative light if given the opportunity. During this holiday season, it’s important to understand that even “social” drinkers can fall victim to the dangers of alcohol. Thus, if an individual chose to drink, he must do so at his peril. Solid planning and good insight are critical to understanding one’s vulnerability to minimize one’s susceptibility to drinking in excess.


CDC Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health. (2018). Retrieved from


Estep, B. (2018, March 18, 2018). 652 drinks a year. Kentucky binge drinking rate among highest in the nation, . Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved from


Peterson, J. B., Morey, J., & Higgins, D. M. (2005). You Drink, I Drink Alcohol Consumption, Social Context, and Personality. Individual Differences Research, 3, 23-35. Retrieved from


Chris Morrison, MA, M.Ed.
WKPIC Doctoral Intern




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Friday Factoids Catch-up: Examining the Link between Folic Acid Levels and Negative Symptoms in Patients with Schizophrenia

Folic Acid deficiency is considered to play a role in patients with Schizophrenia. Serum or plasma concentration of folic acid is substantially lower in individuals with Schizophrenia than in the general population (Cao et al., 2016).


Mutations in key enzymes that regulate folic acid levels have been demonstrated as a moderator between folic acid levels and severity of negative symptoms in individuals with Schizophrenia (Nishi et al., 2014).


A systemic review of meta analyses revealed substantial improvements in negative symptoms in individuals with schizophrenia who were given folic acid supplementation (Sakuma et al., 2018).


Cao B., Wang D.F., Xu M.Y., Liu Y.Q., Yan L.L., Wang J.Y., Lu Q.B. (2016) Lower folate levels in schizophrenia: a meta-analysis. Psychiatry Res 245:1–7


Nishi A., Numata S., Tajima A., Kinoshita M., Kikuchi K., Shimodera S., Tomotake M., Ohi K., Hashimoto R., Imoto I., Takeda M., Ohmori T. (2014) Meta-analyses of blood homocysteine levels for gender and genetic association studies of the MTHFR C677T polymorphism in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin 40:1154–1163


Sakuma, K., Matsunaga, S., Nomura, I., Okuya, M., Kishi, T., & Iwata, N. (2018). Folic acid/methylfolate for the treatment of psychopathology in schizophrenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychopharmacology, 235(8), 2303-2314. doi:10.1007/s00213-018-4926-4


Blake Palmer,
WKPIC Intern


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Friday Factoids Catch-Up: Exercising in the Winter Months

Ugh. It’s *that* time again…


As we begin to head into the winter months, it is important to consider how our exercise and fitness habits might change, and the benefits of exercising.


Exercise can be weather-dependent for many people, as they may not want to exercise out in bad weather (i.e. rain, cloudy, snow, etc.) and they may not want to exercise when it is dark outside (i.e. early morning or late evening.  This can leave limited amounts of time to exercise during the winter months when the length of the days becomes shorter and there are more possibilities for rain or snow.


<Nooooo, not jogging in snow!>




There are many benefits to exercising other than just an increase in endorphins, and these benefits just might nudge you toward exercising even during the winter months, up to and including, yes, jogging in the snow. The Mayo clinic reports that physical activity can “reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight, and even boost your self-esteem.”  The Mayo clinic also recommends a combination of strength training and aerobic activity and they even provide examples and videos of various exercises to help get individuals started!


So as we enter in these next few months of decreased sun exposure, sunny days, and lower temperatures, consider looking for exercises to do inside your home! Below are some resources to help you get started.



Hannah Sutherland, MA, LPA (Temp)
WKPIC Doctoral Intern




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Friday Factoids Catch-Up: Psychology for Dogs


For many dog parents, we all know the struggle of training new commands to puppies or new dogs. We might have tried different techniques, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, verbal signs, or visual signs. However, there are many dogs for which some techniques do not always work–or your dog does not always respond to the command.  So why is it that some dogs are able to learn faster than others, and is there really a difference among verbal and visual cues that go along with commands?


If you have ever taken a dog to a pet training course at a place like PetsMart, you will see that their animal trainers will pair a command with a visual cue. For instance, they will give a hand signal while they are telling the dog to ‘sit’ or point to the ground while they are saying ‘down’.



New research conducted at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia might shed some insight on the dog’s brain and the types of signals they perceive when learning a new command. This research supports the theory that visual commands can be more effective when training a dog. The fMRI data supports this notion as well.





Hannah Sutherland, MA, LPA (Temp)
WKPIC Doctoral Intern


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Friday Factoids: Screen Time Controls


When was the last time you looked at your phone? How recent was it? Do you remember what you were looking at or did you just check it out of habit?


Many technology companies are starting to come out with more controls to monitor how much we look at our phones, or our “screen time.” The companies are designing these controls for both adults and kids to help reduce the amount of time we use our electronic devices without thinking about it.  The new monitors will even help set limits for the amount of time we can use for different apps. The monitors can also use a password to set, in case you do not have much self-discipline and keep adding extra time.


It can also be helpful to set limits for how much time kids are on their phones or tablets. These screen time controls may become a naturalistic, non-invasive way of reducing children’s obsessions with their devices, and model healthy limits for younger users of electronics.


So the next time you see yourself checking your phone for the 30th time today, remember that you can set limits for yourself to help improve productivity!




Hannah Sutherland, MA, LPA (Temp)
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Friday Factoids: October is Depression Awareness Month

As we start into the month of October, we typically think of the pumpkins, scary movies, trick ‘r treating, and costume parties. However, something that we should keep in mind is that it is also Depression Awareness Month. This should be considered especially because many horror films are based off of the Hollywood view of how an individual in a psychiatric hospital would be and act–and it’s pretty terrifying–and it’s wrong.


We need to reject stereotypical and inaccurate portrayals of mental illness, and help other people become more aware of how these views add to the stigma and biases about mental illness, and how individuals with mental illnesses should be considered “dangerous.” We should aim to help people truly understand these illnesses and how they can impact an individual’s life. We should also work towards educating people about how individuals with mental illness are not always dangerous, and that most conditions, such as depression, can be successfully treated.




Hannah Sutherland, MA, LPA (Temp)
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Hoorays and Yays!


WKPIC would like to congratulate Dr. Katy Roth on the successful defense of her dissertation.


Rock it, Dr. Roth!!




Susan Redmond-Vaught, Ph.D.
Director, WKPIC


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Welcome, 2018-2019 Interns!



Pictured left to right, Blake Palmer, Andrew Goebel, Hannah Sutherland, and Chris Morrison, and the PMHC mascot plant, Seymour. Let’s hope Seymour doesn’t get hungry…



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Farewell to the class of 2017-2018

The time has come again to say goodbye–sigh. But WKPIC knows its graduates will be awesome in whatever they undertake. Fair winds and following seas to these new psychologists. Here’s hoping they chart new waters and travel far!



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Many congratulations to previous intern and current post-doctoral student Jennifer Román on the successful defense of her dissertation–including THREE HOURS of answering questions from an academic audience!!




Susan Redmond-Vaught, Ph.D.
Director, WKPIC


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