A Novel Concurrent Pictorial Choice Model of Mood-Induced Relapse in Hazardous Drinkers

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This study tested whether a novel concurrent pictorial choice procedure, inspired by animal self-administration models, is sensitive to the motivational effect of negative mood induction on alcohol-seeking in hazardous drinkers. Forty-eight hazardous drinkers (scoring ≥7 on the Alcohol Use Disorders Inventory) recruited from the community completed measures of alcohol dependence, depression, and drinking coping motives. Baseline alcohol-seeking was measured by percent choice to enlarge alcohol- versus food-related thumbnail images in two alternative forced-choice trials. Negative and positive mood was then induced in succession by means of self-referential affective statements and music, and percent alcohol choice was measured after each induction in the same way as baseline. Baseline alcohol choice correlated with alcohol dependence severity, r = .42, p = .003, drinking coping motives (in two questionnaires, r = .33, p = .02 and r = .46, p = .001), and depression symptoms, r = .31, p = .03. Alcohol choice was increased by negative mood over baseline (p < .001, ηp2 = .280), and matched baseline following positive mood (p = .54, ηp2 = .008). The negative mood-induced increase in alcohol choice was not related to gender, alcohol dependence, drinking to cope, or depression symptoms (ps ≥ .37). The concurrent pictorial choice measure is a sensitive index of the relative value of alcohol, and provides an accessible experimental model to study negative mood-induced relapse mechanisms in hazardous drinkers.

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