Amphetamine Use, Drinking Study: The Results are Stimulating

Alcohol consumption may increase vulnerability to the effects of amphetamine

(RxWiki News) A new study from the University of Kentucky suggests alcohol consumption may increase the likelihood of abusing stimulant drugs.

Amphetamines, part of a larger group of drugs known as stimulants, have been shown to increase energy and concentration and are widely used by young adults. A new study indicates an association between drinking and other drug abuse.

Craig R. Rush, senior author of the study and professor of Behavioral Science, Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Kentucky, said there is a direct epidemiological link between drinking alcohol and the misuse of prescription drugs. The results of his new study -- which builds on previous research that showed moderate drinkers were more sensitive to some of the effects of amphetamines when compared to light drinkers -- will be available in the March 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"The idea behind the present study was to follow that study up with one in which we determined whether moderate drinkers were also more likely to work to receive amphetamine in the laboratory, in addition to being more sensitive to its subjective effects," said Rush.

The researchers looked at 33 study participants and divided them into either moderate (more than seven drinks per week) or light drinkers (less than seven drinks per week). During a series of four studies, the participants were given a placebo as well as low (8-10mg) and high (16-20mg) doses of d-amphetamine.

The subjects then had the chance to earn up to a total of eight capsules containing 12.5 percent of the previous dose by working on a computer task. The high dose of amphetamines increased drug-taking in both light and moderate drinkers, but only the low dose did so with the moderate drinkers, suggesting that consuming moderate levels of alcohol may increase an individual's vulnerability to the effects of stimulants like amphetamine.

"Sensitization effects to stimulants can be powerful, most notably with regard to their persistence," said Mark T. Fillmore, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky. "We need to determine if drinking heavily might actually produce physiological changes in individuals that causes them to become more sensitive to the pleasurable effects of psychostimulant drugs, such as amphetamines."

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December 16, 2010