The present study determined whether: (1) the response to alcohol varied as a function of menstrual cycle phase and (2) women with a paternal history of alcoholism (FHP) were less sensitive to the effects of alcohol compared to women without a family history of alcoholism (FHN). The behavioral effects of alcohol (0.00, 0.25, and 0.75 g/kg) were evaluated in 21 FHN and 24 FHP women; each dose was tested during both the midfollicular and late luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. Baseline negative mood was increased during the luteal phase compared to the follicular phase (increased Beck Depression scores and decreased Vigor, Arousal, and Friendly scores). Alcohol increased ratings of Drug Liking and Good Drug Effect more in the luteal phase than the follicular phase. FHP women had greater negative mood during the luteal phase and some of these dysphoric effects were increased by alcohol more in FHP women than FHN women. Alcohol impaired performance, with no group or menstrual cycle differences. However, consistent with previous studies, FHP women were less impaired by alcohol than FHN women on the balance task. These data indicate that (1) the differences in response to alcohol across the menstrual cycle are subtle, although alcohol is liked more during the luteal phase; (2) increases in dysphoric mood during the luteal phase are more pronounced in FHP women compared to FHN women, particularly after alcohol; and (3) the differences observed in response to alcohol between FHP and FHN women are less pronounced than previously shown in men.
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