The pharmacologic and expectancy effects of alcohol on social anxiety in individuals with social phobia

Kenneth Abrams, Matt Kushner, Krista Lisdahl Medina, Amanda Voight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

Individuals with social phobia are at an increased risk for alcohol problems. Individuals with social phobia could increase their risk for pathological alcohol use if they drink as a means of coping with anxiety-provoking social situations. Providing a circumscribed test of this view, we evaluate the effect of alcohol on the intensity of social phobia anxiety responses. Sixty-one individuals with social phobia gave two speech challenges in front of a group ('social anxiety challenge'), one occurring before and one after they consumed either: (a) an alcoholic drink they were told contained alcohol ('alcohol group'), (b) a non-alcoholic drink they were told contained alcohol ('placebo group'), or, (c) a non-alcoholic drink they were told contained no alcohol ('control group'). Both the alcohol group and the placebo group showed greater reduction in performance anxiety from the first to the second speech challenge than did the control group. Further, there was a strong trend in the data for the alcohol group to show greater reduction in performance anxiety from the first to the second speech challenge than did the placebo group. We concluded from these findings that the pharmacologic effects of alcohol and the belief that one consumed alcohol decrease social performance anxiety in an additive fashion. These results provide direct support for the negatively reinforcing properties of alcohol and are consistent with the view that symptom reduction may motivate alcohol use among socially phobic individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-231
Number of pages13
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2001

Keywords

  • Alcohol challenge
  • Alcohol use
  • Co-morbidity
  • Laboratory stress
  • Social phobia

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The pharmacologic and expectancy effects of alcohol on social anxiety in individuals with social phobia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this