Stimulant alcohol effects prime within session drinking behavior

William R. Corbin, Ashley Gearhardt, Kim Fromme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Rationale: Individual differences in subjective alcohol effects have been shown to differ by risk status (e.g., family history of alcoholism) and to predict future risk for alcohol-related problems. Presumably, individual differences in both stimulant and sedative responses affect the rewarding value of drinking which, in turn, impacts future drinking behavior. Although plausible, this theoretical model is largely untested. Objectives: The current study attempted to provide experimental evidence for the impact of subjective alcohol responses on within session drinking behavior. Materials and methods: Using a placebo-controlled between-subjects alcohol administration paradigm, experiences and evaluations of stimulant and sedative alcohol effects (after a target dose of 0.06 g%) were assessed as predictors of ad-libitum consumption in the context of anticipatory stress. Results: Analyses indicated that an initial dose of alcohol increased experiences of both stimulation and sedation although stimulant effects were evaluated much more positively. In addition, stimulant effects after a priming dose predicted further consumption, whereas sedative effects did not. Conclusions: At least among moderate to heavy drinking college students, stimulant alcohol effects are more reinforcing and predict within session drinking behavior under social stress. Increased attention should be given to stimulant alcohol effects as a risk factor for excessive consumption in this population. Incorporating information about stimulant alcohol effects in prevention and intervention programs may also be important if additional research supports the current results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-337
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol challenge
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Evaluations
  • Experiences
  • Placebo control
  • Priming
  • Sedative effects
  • Stimulant effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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