Environmental Context Effects on Craving Among Consumers of Caffeinated Alcohol Beverages: Associations With Aspects of Impulsivity

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The present study primarily sought to (a) determine the effects of environmental context on subjective ratings of craving for alcohol and caffeinated alcohol beverages (CAB) and (b) test inhibitory control, a state behavioral aspect of impulsivity, as a mediator of the association between context and craving in a sample of consumers of CAB. A secondary aim was to examine the associations between trait impulsivity and subjective craving for alcohol and CAB. Participants were 143 (67.1% female) college CAB drinkers. Participants were randomized into either a simulated bar context condition or neutral context condition and completed measures of alcohol use, CAB use, trait impulsivity, inhibitory control on a go/no-go task, and subjective craving for alcohol and CAB. Findings revealed that participants in the simulated bar condition, as compared with those in the neutral condition, reported more subjective craving for alcohol and for CAB; however, alcohol and CAB-specific craving were not different overall or as a function of context. The association between context and subjective craving for alcohol was not mediated by inhibitory control. Trait impulsivity was positively associated with alcohol and CAB-specific craving at baseline and post context exposure, and this finding was similar across both conditions. Therefore, the current investigation suggests that consumers of CAB may be sensitive to alcohol contexts as indicated by greater responses in alcohol and CAB-specific craving. However, inhibitory control did not explain this association. Future research may benefit from examining other potential mechanisms that explain the relationship between context and craving among CAB consumers.

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