Relationship of components of an alcohol interoceptive stimulus to induction of desire for alcohol in social drinkers.Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1999 Oct; 64(2):301-9.PB
The ability of a low (0.2 g/kg) oral dose of ethanol to provide a drug discriminative stimulus was studied in young healthy human volunteers, who were social drinkers. Seventeen of 24 subjects acquired the discrimination following 10 trials in which they received aliquots of ethanol or of placebo drink (tonic water mixed with Tabasco sauce). In generalization studies, in which the dose of ethanol was varied, discrimination performance was dose dependent; doses greater than 0.05 g/kg gave rise to significant ethanol-appropriate responding. Concurrent estimates of the subjective effects of doses administered as discriminative stimuli revealed that two factors--taste and light-headedness--were associated with discrimination: at the training dose, 0.2 g/kg, although both the factors taste and light-headedness were significantly increased, only taste predicted discrimination performance. At lower doses, taste did not contribute to discrimination, but the subjective rating light-headedness correlated significantly with discrimination accuracy. Post hoc analyses of the influence of the amount of alcohol regularly drunk by the volunteers, on discrimination performance suggested light-headedness correlated with discriminative performance only in social drinkers drinking more than 20 units per week. In a second experiment, groups of "high" (mean 40 units per week) and "low" (mean 10 units per week) social drinkers were prospectively identified. Discrimination performance of 0.2 g/kg ethanol in orange juice vs. orange juice vehicle indicated that both groups were able to perform the discrimination following a single training trial, and that generalization curves over the range 0.05-0.2 g/kg were dose dependent, and not different between the groups. At the lowest dose, discrimination performance was predicted by taste, stimulation, and light-headedness in the "high" group, but not in the "low" group. The ability of these ethanol doses to induce feelings of craving for ethanol were assessed in parallel, using the Desire for Alcohol Questionnaire (DAQ). "High" drinkers showed higher desire for ethanol on all factors of the DAQ except the "positive negative reinforcement" factor, and sampling ethanol tended to increase desire in these measures. However, at each dose, the induction of feelings of desire for ethanol showed a negative correlation with discrimination performance. These findings are discussed in the context of the ability of animals and humans to use several components of drug-induced stimuli in the performance of drug discrimination, and the role of such discriminative stimuli in priming of ethanol drinking.