Physiological reactivity and self-reported desire to drink in nonproblem drinkers (n = 11 women and 15 men) and hospitalized alcoholics (N = 25 women and 34 men) were examined while subjects held and sniffed their preferred alcoholic beverage. Skin conductance level (SCL) and heart rate during alcohol exposure were significantly higher in the alcoholics than in the non-alcoholics. Self-reported desire to drink and SCL during alcohol exposure were correlated for alcoholics but not for nonalcoholics. Among alcoholics, SCL change was positively correlated with the number of heavy-drinking days in the month preceding admission to treatment. Consistent with conditioning models of relapse, alcoholics showed a distinctive response to alcohol cues, characterized by autonomic reactivity and concordance between this reactivity and self-reported desire for alcohol.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)