heightened stimulant response to alcohol

Greater stimulation and reward from alcohol predicts AUDs

In a recent blog we looked at the possibility that those  with a positive family history of alcohol use disorders (AUDs)  experience a heightened stimulant response to alcohol in addition to a blunted response to more negative impairing effects. 

In other words sons and daughters of alcoholics at risk for later alcoholism appear to have a greater kick from alcohol and can also hold their liquor without the negative impairments that go with it.

In this study from a few months ago, it is clearly suggested that  heavy social drinkers who report greater stimulation and reward from alcohol are more likely to develop alcohol use disorder over time.

A team led by Andrea King, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago, analyzed the subjective response of 104 young adult heavy social drinkers to alcohol and tracked their long-term drinking habits.

“Heavy drinkers who felt alcohol’s stimulant and pleasurable effects at the highest levels in their 20s were the ones with the riskiest drinking profiles in the future and most likely to go on and have alcohol problems in their 30s,” King said, “In comparison, participants reporting fewer positive effects of alcohol were more likely to mature out of binge drinking as they aged.”

“We knew that at age 25, there were binge drinkers who were sensitive to alcohol’s more positive effects,” King said. “We just didn’t know what was going to happen to them. Now we show that they’re the ones more likely to go on to experience more alcohol problems.”

Journal Reference

  1. Andrea C. King, Patrick J. McNamara, Deborah S. Hasin, Dingcai Cao. Alcohol Challenge Responses Predict Future Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms: A 6-Year Prospective Study. Biological Psychiatry, 2014; 75 (10): 798 DOI:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.08.001

Journalist Article Reference

  1. University of Chicago Medical Center. “Effects of alcohol in young binge drinkers predicts future alcoholism.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515103702.htm>.

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