Association between overall rate of change in rising breath alcohol concentration and the magnitude of acute tolerance of subjective intoxication via the Mellanby method
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OBJECTIVE: The magnitude of acute tolerance is a strong predictor of the development of longer-term chronic tolerance and plays a decisive role in risky decisions (e.g., driving after drinking). Therefore, it is important to identify factors that increase the magnitude of this adaptive process. This study explored whether acute tolerance magnitude varied as a function of the overall rate of increase in breath alcohol concentration (BrAC). METHODS: Twenty-nine young adult social drinkers (M age = 22.55, SD = 3.10; 62.1% women) consumed a moderate dose of alcohol (men: 0.86 g/kg, women: 0.75 g/kg) in a controlled laboratory setting. Subjective intoxication was assessed at matched BrACs (~0.060 g/dl) on each limb of the BrAC curve. RESULTS: Hierarchical regression results indicated that faster overall increases in BrAC on the ascending limb were associated with greater acute tolerance for subjective intoxication ratings (p < .01, R2 = .29). CONCLUSIONS: These results present some of the first evidence that faster increases in BrAC may be associated with greater acute tolerance, as indicated by greater reduction in subjective intoxication across the limbs of the BrAC curve. This greater reduction may, in turn, promote heavier drinking and/or engagement in behaviors for which one is unfit (e.g., driving after drinking).
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