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Craving and Subjective Responses to Alcohol Administration: Validation of the Desires for Alcohol Questionnaire in the Human Laboratory

Kelly E. Courtney, James Ashenhurst, Guadalupe Bacio, Nathasha Moallem, Spencer Bujarski, Emily Hartwell, Lara A. Ray

Objective: The abbreviated Desires for Alcohol Questionnaire (DAQ) is a self-report assessment of craving comprising the following subscales: (a) strong desires/intentions to drink, (b) negative reinforcement, and (c) positive reinforcement and ability to control drinking. Although the DAQ is sensitive to changes in alcohol craving precipitated by alcohol administration and/or cue exposure, no studies to date have examined the relationship between DAQ scores and subjective responses to alcohol. This study addresses this gap in the literature by testing the relationship between subjective responses to alcohol during alcohol administration and DAQ scores assessed 1 month later. Method: Individuals with alcohol dependence (n = 32) completed a randomized, single-blinded, intravenous alcohol administration in the laboratory in which subjective responses to the alcohol were measured, followed by a visit to the laboratory 1 month later to complete the DAQ. Results: Analyses revealed robust associations between DAQ scores and alcohol craving during alcohol administration (partial correlations: r = .43.50, ps < .01), with the exception of the positive reinforcement subscale (r = .20, p = .30). Subjective intoxication and sedation were only associated with the negative reinforcement subscale of the DAQ (r = .38, p < .05 and r = .33, p < .05, respectively). Conclusions: Craving, captured by the DAQ, is reliably and positively associated with alcohol-induced craving. The DAQ is also associated with specific dimensions of subjective responses to alcohol. These results support the clinical utility of the DAQ, particularly in large samples where experimental manipulations may not be feasible. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 74, 797802, 2013)