Differential response to alcohol in light and moderate female social drinkers.Behav Pharmacol. 2004 May; 15(3):167-81.BP
Individuals who are moderate drinkers are at increased risk to abuse alcohol. Moreover, women are more vulnerable than men to the adverse consequences of alcohol consumption and recent data indicate that the drinking pattern in women is becoming more similar to that of men. However, few studies have determined whether female moderate drinkers (MD) show a differential response to the subjective and performance effects of alcohol, compared to female light drinkers (LD). Fifteen female MD who consumed an average of 34.7 drinks/month were compared to 15 female LD who consumed an average of 6.7 drinks/month. None of the participants had a first-degree family history of alcoholism or substance abuse. The acute effects of alcohol (0, 0.25, 0.50, 0.75 mg/kg) were evaluated using a double-blind, placebo-controlled outpatient design. Drug effects were assessed using a full range of performance measures, subjective-effects questionnaires and observer ratings. Alcohol impaired performance in a dose-related manner on all performance tasks for both groups of females. However, MD were less impaired than LD on balance and Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST). This reduced response was also evident from the observer ratings, with MD being viewed as less impaired by alcohol than LD. While ratings of Drug Liking increased in both groups of women on the ascending limb of the breath alcohol curve, alcohol was disliked by LD on the descending limb and LD reported increased ratings of Bad Drug Effects following the high dose of alcohol. The reduced performance impairment, coupled with the positive subjective effects and relative absence of adverse subjective effects, suggestive of behavioral tolerance, could result in a progression towards increased alcohol consumption among moderate female social drinkers.