The role of impulsivity and perceived availability on cue-elicited craving for alcohol in social drinkers

H. Papachristou*, C. Nederkoorn, J. Corstjens, A. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


RATIONALE: Previous research has demonstrated a role for impulsivity and perceived availability of the substance in cue-elicited craving. However, their effects on cue-elicited craving for alcohol are still ambiguous. Most important is that there has been no empirical evidence for the potential interaction of these factors on alcohol craving. OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of response inhibition and perceived availability on cue-elicited craving for alcohol in social drinkers. METHODS: Participants were light to moderate social drinkers (N = 75) who were exposed to neutral- and alcohol-related stimuli during a single laboratory session. Response inhibition was assessed with the Stop Signal Task. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two perceived availability groups (n = 37, expecting alcohol; n = 38, not expecting alcohol). RESULTS: Overall craving for alcohol was higher in participants who expected alcohol than in those who did not. This finding was statistically significant only in the alcohol condition. Most important is that there was a significant interaction between response inhibition, perceived availability and time on cue-elicited craving. Regardless of the cue type, impulsive people who expected alcohol experience a significant increase in cue-elicited craving relative to impulsive people who did not expect alcohol. This effect was not observed in the non-impulsive groups. CONCLUSIONS: The results clearly show that perceived availability alone and in combination with response inhibition can modulate alcohol cue reactivity. Theoretical explanations and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-153
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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