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Monday, March 5, 2012

Delineating Potential Mechanisms of Implicit Alcohol Cognitions: Drinking Restraint, Negative Affect, and Their Relationship With Approach Alcohol Ass

Problem drinkers may use alcohol to avoid negative mood states and may develop implicit cognitive associations between negative emotional states and reinforcing properties of drinking. It is paradoxical that attempts to control drinking, such as among those high in drinking restraint, may inadvertently increase desire to drink and subsequent alcohol consumption, and this may be exaggerated under times of emotional distress when urges to drink are high.

We examined whether individuals who are high on drinking restraint would demonstrate stronger alcohol-related thoughts elicited by stimuli that represent the desire to use alcohol, in response to stronger versus weaker negative mood arousal.

Seventy hazardous drinkers completed measurements of drinking restraint, alcohol consumption, and consequences of use. After being randomized to view negative or positive pictures sets, participants completed an Implicit Association Task (IAT) to test differences in the strength of the association between desire to approach or avoid alcohol or water cues, and then a measurement of subjective craving following the IAT.

Regression analyses showed that trait restriction not temptation was positively related to IAT scores, after controlling for relevant covariates and explained 7% of the total variance.

Trait temptation not IAT predicted subjective craving. Negative affect was unrelated to IAT scores, singly or in conjunction with measures of drinking restraint, contrary to predictions.

In sum, implicit alcohol cognitions are related to attempts to restrict drinking not temptation to drink and are less strongly influenced by mood state.

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