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Recent Drinking History: Association with Family History of Alcoholism and the Acute Response to Alcohol during a 60 mg% Clamp

Vijay A. Ramchandani, Leah Flury, Sandra L. Morzorati, David Kareken, Tanya Blekher, Tatiana Foroud, Ting-Kai Li, Sean O'Connor

Objective: Family history of alcoholism (FHA) is associated with increased drinking history, which can be a confounding factor in studies of the influence of FHA on the acute response to alcohol. The objective of this analysis was to investigate the association between recent drinking history (RDH) and FHA in a sample of family history positive (FHP; n = 55, 28 women) and family history negative (FHN; n = 55, 29 women) subjects, and to explore the influence of RDH on the response to alcohol during a 60 mg% clamp. Method: RDH was measured using daily diary and timeline followback methods. The total number of drinks in the 4-week (TD28) and 1-week (TD07) intervals prior to the study were determined, as well as the number of drinking days in the same intervals. Dependent measures of brain function were obtained at baseline (B0), immediately after the target BrAC was achieved (B1) and 105 minutes later (B2). The alcohol response was quantified as an initial response (ira = B1-B0) and an adaptive response (ada = B2-B1). The association between RDH and the ira and ada measures was tested using multivariate regression. Results: The RDH measures showed a large variance across subjects, with no significant differences between FHP and FHN groups in the study sample. The initial responses for subjective perceptions of “high” and “intoxicated,” Alcohol Sensation Scale scores and scores for the grooved pegboard task were significantly negatively associated with TD28. Acute tolerance to perceptions of “high” and “intoxication” was significantly negatively associated with TD28. Conclusions: Heavy drinking history is associated with a decreased initial response to alcohol and greater acute tolerance to alcohol, particularly for subjective measures. Although RDH was not associated with FHA in this study, it may be an important determinant of the response to alcohol. (J. Stud. Alcohol 63: 734-744, 2002)