Increased behavioral economic demand and craving for alcohol following a laboratory alcohol challenge Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Although increases in subjective alcohol craving have been observed following moderate doses of alcohol (e.g. priming effects), the effects of alcohol consumption on behavioral economic demand for alcohol are largely unstudied. This study examined the effects of alcohol intoxication on alcohol demand and craving. DESIGN: A between-subjects design in which participants were randomly assigned to either an alcohol (n = 31), placebo (n = 29) or control (n = 25) condition. SETTING: A laboratory setting at the University of Missouri, USA. PARTICIPANTS: Eighty-five young adult moderate drinkers were recruited from the University of Missouri and surrounding community. MEASUREMENTS: Change in demand for alcohol across time was measured using three single items: alcohol consumption at no cost (i.e. intensity), maximum price paid for a single drink (i.e. breakpoint) and total amount spent on alcohol (i.e. Omax). Alcohol demand at baseline was also assessed using an alcohol purchase task (APT). Craving was assessed using a single visual analog scale item. FINDINGS: In the alcohol group compared with the combined non-alcohol groups, intensity, breakpoint and craving increased from baseline to the ascending limb and decreased thereafter (Ps < 0.05; Omax , P = 0.06). Change in craving following alcohol consumption was significantly associated with change in each of the demand indices (Ps < 0.0001). Finally, the demand single items were associated with corresponding indices from the APT (Ps < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol demand increases following intoxication, in terms of both the maximum amount people are willing to pay for one drink and the number of drinks people would consume if drinks were free. Behavioral economic measures of alcohol value can complement subjective craving as measures of moment-to-moment fluctuations in drinking motivation following intoxication.


  • Amlung, Michael
  • McCarty, Kayleigh N
  • Morris, David H
  • Tsai, Chia-Lin
  • McCarthy, Denis M

publication date

  • September 2015