Objective: The level of intensity of response to a drug is likely to influence the future pattern of intake of the substance. This article evaluates a simple Self-Rating of the Effects (SRE) of alcohol form, and reports the relationship between a person's estimate of the amounts of alcohol usually required for four possible effects during three different time frames and his subjective feelings reported during an alcohol challenge.
Method: SRE forms and results of a challenge with 0.9 ml/kg (0.72 g/kg) of ethanol were available for 18 to 29 year old drinking, but not alcohol dependent, men (N = 98). A subset of 40 subjects completed a second SRE form approximately 1 year later.
Results: The correlation between the two SRE administration was .82 (p < .0001), and the results on the SRE were internally consistent, with a higher number of drinks associated with more intense alcohol effects. Focusing on the subjective feelings reported at the 60-minute timepoint during the alcohol challenge, 11 of the 12 alcohol effect categories on the SRE correlated in the predicted direction, including eight that were statistically significant. Evaluating all seven timepoints during the drinking experiment, the average number of drinks on the SRE correlated significantly with the Subjective High Assessment Scale (SHAS) total score at all but the final timepoint. Sons of alcoholics and controls demonstrated similar levels of correlation between SRE and alcohol challenge results. Finally, the SRE correctly identified 79% of the individuals whose levels of response to alcohol fell into the lowest third of intensity during the alcohol challenge, and it correctly classified 60% to 67% of the alcohol challenge subjects who did not fall into that low response category.
Conclusions: The SRE is a simple and reliable measure of a person's estimate of the number of drinks required to achieve a response. The form might be helpful in educating people about the intensity of their response to alcohol and might be useful as a point of discussion in curricula focusing on genetic aspects of alcoholism. When alcohol challenges are not possible in a research protocol, the SRE might help identify a less heterogeneous subgroup of individuals at high risk for alcoholism who have a common mechanism increasing their vulnerability.