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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2009 Sep;33(9):1539-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.00982.x. Epub 2009 May 26.

Blood glucose level, alcohol heavy drinking, and alcohol craving during treatment for alcohol dependence: results from the Combined Pharmacotherapies and Behavioral Interventions for Alcohol Dependence (COMBINE) Study.

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Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.



Heavy drinking may increase blood glucose levels. Moreover, in alcohol-dependent subjects, glucose may play a putative role in alcohol preference.


This study investigated the relationship between blood glucose levels and both alcohol heavy drinking and craving in alcohol-dependent subjects participating in the COMBINE Study. The primary objective was to evaluate the relationship between baseline (pretreatment) glucose levels and percentage of heavy drinking day (PHDD) during treatment. The secondary objective was to evaluate the relationship between glucose levels, baseline PHDD, and craving measured by the Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS).


This analysis consisted of 1,324 participants. Baseline glucose levels were significantly and positively associated with PHDD during treatment [F(1, 1225) = 5.21, p = 0.023], after controlling for baseline PHDD [F(1, 1225) = 36.25, p < 0.0001], gender [F (1, 1225) = 3.33, p = 0.07], and body mass index (BMI) [F(1, 1225) = 0.31, p = 0.58]. Higher glucose levels at baseline were associated with a higher percentage of PHDD at pretreatment [F(1, 1304) = 5.96, p = 0.015], after controlling for gender [F(1, 1304) = 0.29, p = 0.59] and BMI [F(1, 1304) = 0.90, p = 0.34]. Glucose was not significantly associated with the OCDS total score [F(1, 1304) = 0.12, p = 0.73], the OCDS Obsessive subscale [F(1, 1304) = 0.35, p = 0.56], or the OCDS Compulsive subscale [F(1, 1304) = 1.19, p = 0.28] scores, after controlling for gender and BMI.


A link between pretreatment glucose levels and heavy drinking during treatment was found, suggesting a role of glucose in predicting heavy alcohol consumption. Although caution is needed in the interpretation of these results, elevated glucose and heavy drinking may be affected by a common mechanism and manipulations affecting glucose regulation may influence alcohol consumption.

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