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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2012 Mar;73(2):205-15.

Effects of alcohol availability, access to alcohol, and naltrexone on self-reported craving and patterns of drinking in response to an alcohol-cue availability procedure.

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VISN 17 Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, Waco, Texas, USA.



Craving has long been cited by patients and providers as a principal construct in alcohol use disorders and an essential target for treatment. The goal of the current study was to examine the effects of alcohol availability (20% vs. 80% availability), access to alcohol ("open" vs. "locked" trials), and medication (oral naltrexone [Revia] vs. placebo) on self-reported craving and two behavioral measures of drinking (latency of attempt to access alcohol, amount of alcohol consumed when access permitted) in response to an alcohol-cue availability procedure.


Non-treatment-seeking, alcohol-dependent men and women (N = 58) self-referred for an alcohol administration study and were administered a modified alcohol-cue availability procedure under two medication conditions (naltrexone, placebo) using a within-subjects, repeated-measures design.


Analyses demonstrated that the experimental manipulations used in this study had differential effects on craving and patterns of drinking. Specifically, reduced availability of alcohol (i.e., when alcohol was available in only 20% as opposed to 80% of trials) resulted in greater amounts of alcohol consumed per open trial; the unanticipated blocking of access to alcohol (i.e., a "locked" trial during the 80% availability condition) triggered more rapid attempts to obtain alcohol on subsequent trials. Naltrexone, relative to placebo, was associated with significant reductions in cravings for alcohol.


Taken together, these findings offer partial support for the cognitive processing model and reinforce the utility of evaluating both self-report and behavioral indicators of motivation to drink in studies designed to identify factors associated with the construct of craving.

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