Relationships Between Generalized Impulsivity and Subjective Stimulant and Sedative Responses Following Alcohol Administration

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Impulsivity and subjective response (SR) to alcohol (i.e., individual differences in sensitivity to pharmacologic alcohol effects) are both empirically supported risk factors for alcohol use disorder; however, these constructs have been infrequently studied as related risk factors. The present investigation examined a self-report measure of impulsivity (i.e., the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, Version 11) in relation to acute alcohol effects (i.e., stimulant and sedative SR). Participants came from 2 cohorts of the Chicago Social Drinking Project. Heavy and light drinkers from Cohort 1 (n = 156) and heavy social drinkers from Cohort 2 (n = 104) were examined using identical laboratory protocols following oral alcohol administration using a within-subject, double-blind, placebo-controlled laboratory study design. Self-reported impulsivity and, for comparison purposes, sensation seeking were measured at baseline, and SR was measured once prior to and 4 times following alcohol administration. More impulsive light, but not heavy, drinkers reported heightened stimulant SR following alcohol administration. High impulsive, light drinkers reported stimulant SR at a magnitude similar to that for heavy drinkers, whereas low impulsive, light drinkers reported limited stimulant SR. The interaction between impulsivity and sensation seeking did not statistically predict stimulant SR, and overall, impulsivity was a stronger predictor than was sensation seeking. However, impulsivity was not statistically predictive of dampened sedative SR among light or heavy drinkers. These findings partially replicate and extend the recent literature linking self-reported impulsivity to heightened stimulant SR from alcohol. Future directions include longitudinal studies and research relating multiple facets of impulsivity to SR.

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