Acute tolerance to the analgesic effects of alcohol

Michelle K. Williams, Darya Vitus, Erin Ferguson, Bethany Stennett, Michael Robinson, Jeff Boissoneault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The goal of this study was to determine whether the acute analgesic effects of alcohol intake are moderated by acute alcohol tolerance, characterized by differing subjective and neurobehavioral effects of a given blood alcohol concentration (BAC) depending on whether BAC is rising or falling. Method: Twenty-nine healthy drinkers (20 women) completed two laboratory sessions in which they consumed a study beverage: active alcohol (target BAC = .08 g/dl) and placebo. Acute alcohol tolerance was assessed by examining the main and interactive effects of beverage condition and assessment limb (ascending vs. descending) on quantitative sensory testing measures collected using slowly ramping heat stimuli and perceived relief ratings at comparable breath alcohol concentrations on the ascending and descending limbs. Results: BAC limb moderated the effect of condition on pain threshold, such that the threshold was significantly elevated in the alcohol condition on the ascending limb. The alcohol condition produced greater ratings of perceived pain relief than the placebo condition, and pain relief ratings were greater on the ascending versus descending limb of the BAC curve. Alcohol intake did not significantly affect pain tolerance or aftersensation ratings on either BAC limb. Conclusions: This study provides initial experimental evidence that alcohol’s analgesic and pain-relieving effects are subject to acute tolerance following acute alcohol intake. These findings suggest that self-medicating pain via alcohol intake may be associated with high-risk drinking topography, increasing the risk for alcohol-related consequences. Further research is needed to determine if these effects extend to the context of clinical and chronic pain. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 82, 422–430, 2021).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-430
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Volume82
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this work was provided by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism award numbers R01AA025337 and R21AA026805. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official view of the National Institutes of Health. The authors confirm the following contributions to the article—study conception and design: J.B. and M.R.; acquisition of data: B.S. and D.V.; analysis and interpretation of results: E.F., D.V., and M.W.; drafting of the manuscript: J.B., D.V., and M.W; and critical revision: J.B, E.F., B.S., and M.R. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding Information:
Support for this work was provided by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism award numbers R01AA025337 and R21AA026805. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official view of the National Institutes of Health.The authors confirmthe following contributions to thearticle—study conception and design: J.B. and M.R.; acquisition of data: B.S. and D.V.; analysis and interpretation of results: E.F., D.V., and M.W.; drafting of the manuscript: J.B., D.V., and M.W; and critical revision: J.B, E.F., B.S., and M.R. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. *Correspondence may be sent to Jeff Boissoneault, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, P.O. Box 100165, Gainesville, FL 32610, or via email at: [email protected].†These authors contributed equally to this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Alcohol Research Documentation Inc.. All rights reserved.

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