The subjective, rather than the disinhibiting, effects of alcohol are related to binge drinking.Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2008 Jun; 32(6):1096-104.AC
Evidence suggests that alcohol-related problems are associated with impulsivity and disinhibited behavior. Less certain is whether disinhibited behavior is due to an impulsive disposition or alcohol's ability to disinhibit some people more than others. There are a range of disinhibited behaviors associated with alcohol, including excessive alcohol consumption, bingeing. The study tested whether nondependent alcohol bingers showed more disinhibition after placebo and/or alcohol relative to nonbingers and whether this was related to enhanced motivation to drink following a priming dose of alcohol.
Twenty participants (10 bingers) attended the laboratory twice. Baseline measures included impulsivity, alcohol-related cognitions, alcohol urge, and mood. Participants were preloaded with alcohol (male: 0.6 g/kg, female: 0.5 g/kg) and placebo (counterbalanced). After a 20-minute rest, participants completed 2 impulsivity tasks (Two Choice & Time Estimation) separated by second urge and mood ratings.
Bingers did not show greater impulsivity characteristics but were more concerned about their drinking (p = 0.02) and ability to control drinking (p = 0.04). A priming effect was found: alcohol urge increased after alcohol but not placebo (p = 0.006). Bingers reported greater tolerance to the sedative (p = 0.05) and lightheaded (p = 0.04) effects of alcohol, relative to nonbingers. Binge status was not associated with impulsivity task performance, while preload type (alcohol/placebo) supported only marginal associations.
Risk of binge drinking in nondependent individuals is not strongly affected by impulsive personality characteristics or alcohol's ability to induce behavioral disinhibition. However, alcohol did lead to a priming effect and bingers were more tolerant to the sedative and lightheaded effects of alcohol relative to placebo. Risk of binge drinking is associated with the subjective effects of a priming dose of alcohol.