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. 2012 Dec;20(6):454-65.
doi: 10.1037/a0029087. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Alcohol Increases Impulsivity and Abuse Liability in Heavy Drinking Women

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Free PMC article

Alcohol Increases Impulsivity and Abuse Liability in Heavy Drinking Women

Stephanie Collins Reed et al. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Heavy drinking has increased in recent years and has been linked to numerous health-related risks, particularly in women. A number of factors may play a role in exacerbating the risks linked to heavy drinking, such as impulsivity, which itself is related to a number of risky behaviors. The present study investigated the effects of alcohol (0, 0.5, 0.75 g/kg) on impulsivity in female heavy drinkers (n = 23) and female light drinkers (n = 23) using a double-blind, placebo-controlled outpatient design; all women were tested during follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Each session, participants completed a range of tasks including subjective measures of abuse liability, cognitive performance tasks, three behavioral impulsivity tasks, and a risk-taking task. Alcohol increased impulsivity on the Immediate and Delayed Memory Task (IMT and DMT) and Delay Discounting task. Heavy drinkers scored higher on impulsivity self-reports and were more impulsive on the IMT and the GoStop task than light drinkers. The high dose of alcohol further increased impulsive performance on the IMT and DMT in heavy drinkers. There were no group differences or alcohol effects on the Balloon Analogue Risk Task. Alcohol increased sedative-like effects more in light drinkers and increased stimulant-like effects and alcohol liking more in heavy drinkers. In summary, female heavy drinkers are less sensitive to the negative effects of alcohol, report more positive effects of alcohol, and are more impulsive than female light drinkers. Moreover, impulsive responding was exacerbated by alcohol drinking among female heavy drinkers, indicating that women who drink at this level are at increased risk for developing alcohol use disorders and engaging in other risky behaviors, particularly after drinking.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Time course of breath alcohol levels as a function of group and alcohol dose. Error bars represent ± 1 SEM.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Time course of breath alcohol levels (BAL) and Immediate Memory Task (IMT) ratio in response to 0.75 g/kg alcohol in light drinkers and heavy drinkers. Error bars represent ± SEM.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Peak Immediate Memory Task (IMT) ratio, Delayed Memory Task (DMT) ratio, 150 ms GoStop ratio, Delay Discounting Task (DDT) overall k value, and Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) adjusted number of pumps as a function of group and alcohol dose. * denotes a significant difference compared with 0.00 g/kg alcohol in the light drinkers (p ≤ .05). # denotes a significant difference compared with 0.00 g/kg alcohol in the heavy drinkers (p ≤ .05). denotes a significant difference between groups (p ≤ .05). Error bars represent + 1 SEM.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Peak Drug Liking and Take Again ratings on the Drug Effects Questionnaire (DEQ) and the Sedation and Stimulant subscale scores on the Biphasic Alcohol Effects Scale (BAES) as a function of group and alcohol dose. See Figure 3 for details.
Figure 5
Figure 5
Peak Balance and Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST) correct arrays completed as a function of group and alcohol dose. See Figure 3 for details.

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