Anna Soderpalm Gordh of Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, said the study involved 58 healthy people who were divided into two groups based on whether a study participant came from a family with a drinking problem. Both groups were randomly assigned to two experimental situations -- one of which was more stressful and involved solving mathematical problems under timed conditions in public.
In an experimental consumption test afterward, the groups were allowed to drink alcohol or a placebo.
"The results show that people with parents who have a history of alcohol abuse drink more than others when exposed to stress," Soderpalm Gordh said in a statement. "If alcohol relaxes you when you're stressed, then you should try to find other ways of calming yourself down -- relaxation exercises, for example."
People who consume large quantities of alcohol every time they drink run a higher risk of developing a dependency in the future, Soderpalm Gordh said.
The findings were published in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior.