At the current level of alcohol consumption in the United States, it is believed that at least five percent of adult women develop alcohol dependence. Results from a national survey of drinking practices suggest that more women than men have family histories of alcoholism. This proposal is for continuation of research aimed at identifying markers that might be useful predictors of alcohol-related problems in women with family histories of alcoholism. Only a few potential biological markers for alcoholism have been investigated. These include comparisons of men with positive versus negative family histories of alcoholism. Such studies indicate differences in sensitivity to fixed doses of alcohol, as assessed by changes in plasma prolactin and cortisol levels, as well as measures of body sway. It also has been suggested that subjective effects and complex cognitive-perceptual tasks may be affected differently by alcohol in women. We propose to refine and extend ongoing research by examining covariance among five subjective, physiological, and behavioral effects of two fixed doses of alcohol (0.56 g/kg and 0.82 g/kg alcohol) in family history positive and family history negative women. Accordingly, we will compare alcohol sensitivity under counter-balanced, double-blind, placebo-controlled conditions that compensate for hormone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. We will assess endocrine sensitivity to alcohol by measuring cortisol and prolactin levels, spontaneous changes in subjective alcohol effects by monitoring subjective responses with a precise and reliable continuous recording instrument, and we will assess magnitude and duration of cognitive-perceptual and performance changes on a complex divided attention task a on body sway. This study will provide a more comprehensive and integrated profile physiological, behavioral, and subjective indices that might indicate predisposition to alcohol problems in women.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Alcohol Psychosocial Research Review Committee (ALCP)
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Mc Lean Hospital (Belmont, MA)
United States
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Lex, B W; Rhoades, E M; Teoh, S K et al. (1994) Divided attention task performance and subjective effects following alcohol and placebo: differences between women with and without a family history of alcoholism. Drug Alcohol Depend 35:95-105
Lex, B W; Ellingboe, J E; Teoh, S K et al. (1991) Prolactin and cortisol levels following acute alcohol challenges in women with and without a family history of alcoholism. Alcohol 8:383-7
Lex, B W; Rhoades, E M; Teoh, S K et al. (1990) Divided attention task performance in women with and without familial alcoholism. NIDA Res Monogr 105:321
Lex, B W; Mello, N K; Mendelson, J H et al. (1989) Reasons for alcohol use by female heavy, moderate, and occasional social drinkers. Alcohol 6:281-7
Lukas, S E; Lex, B W; Slater, J P et al. (1989) A microanalysis of ethanol-induced disruption of body sway and psychomotor performance in women. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 98:169-75
Lex, B W; Lukas, S E (1989) Microanalysis of ethanol-induced disruption of body sway and psychomotor performance in women. NIDA Res Monogr 95:463
Lex, B W; Lukas, S E; Greenwald, N E et al. (1988) Alcohol-induced changes in body sway in women at risk for alcoholism: a pilot study. J Stud Alcohol 49:346-56
Lex, B W; Greenwald, N E; Lukas, S E et al. (1988) Blood ethanol levels, self-rated ethanol effects and cognitive-perceptual tasks. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 29:509-15
Lex, B W; Palmieri, S L; Mello, N K et al. (1988) Alcohol use, marihuana smoking, and sexual activity in women. Alcohol 5:21-5
Lex, B W (1987) Review of alcohol problems in ethnic minority groups. J Consult Clin Psychol 55:293-300

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