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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2000 Nov;24(11):1656-65.

Effects of alcohol on the response to hyperventilation of participants high and low in anxiety sensitivity.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. alanmacd@is2.dal.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Previous research suggests that high levels of anxiety sensitivity (AS; fear of anxiety symptoms) may constitute a risk factor for alcohol abuse. The present study evaluated the hypothesis that high AS levels may increase risk for alcohol abuse by promoting a heightened sober reactivity to theoretically relevant stressors and heightened sensitivity to alcohol's emotional reactivity dampening effects, which would negatively reinforce drinking in this population.

METHODS:

One hundred and two undergraduate participants (51 high AS, 51 low AS) with no history of panic disorder were assigned to either a placebo, low-dose alcohol, or high-dose alcohol beverage condition (17 high AS, 17 low AS per beverage condition). After beverage consumption and absorption, participants underwent a 3 min voluntary hyperventilation challenge.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS:

High-AS/placebo participants displayed greater affective and cognitive reactivity to the challenge than low-AS/placebo participants, which indicated increased fear and negative thoughts (e.g., "losing control") during hyperventilation among sober high AS individuals. Dose-dependent alcohol dampening of affective and cognitive reactivity to hyperventilation was observed only among high-AS participants, which suggested that high-AS individuals may be particularly sensitive to alcohol-induced reductions in their degree of fear and negative thinking in response to the experience of physical arousal sensations. In contrast, dose-dependent alcohol dampening of self-reported somatic reactivity was observed among both high- and low-AS participants. We discuss implications of these results for understanding risk for alcohol abuse in high-AS individuals, as well as directions for future research.

PMID:
11104113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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