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Stimulant drugs, which can increase energy andÊconcentration, are widely abused by young adults. One such drug areÊamphetamines, which in addition to being widely accessible, has been shown inÊprevious studies to have a significant relationship between its abuse and theÊamount of alcohol consumed.

The results will be published in the March 2011 issue of Alcoholism:ÊClinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at EarlyÊView.

Craig R. Rush, senior author of the study and Professor of Behavioral

Science, Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Kentucky, said that

there is a direct epidemiological link between drinking alcohol and the misuse

of prescription drugs. Rush and his fellow researchers wanted to

build upon previous research that showed that moderate

drinkers were more sensitive to some of the effects of amphetamines when

compared to light drinkers.

ÒThe 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,Ó said Rush.

The researchers assessed 33 individuals, and divided them into either

moderate or light drinkers, based on if they drank more or less than seven

drinks per week, respectively. During the course of four studies, the

participants were given the placebo, as well as both low (8-10mg) and high

(16-20mg) doses of d-amphetamine. Following these initial sessions, the subjects

then had the chance to earn up to a total of eight capsules containing 12.5 per

cent of the previous dose by working on a computer task.

The results showed that the high dose of amphetamines increased drug taking

in both light and moderate drinkers, while only the low dose did so with the

moderate drinkers. The moderate drinkers were found to engage in the computer

tasks in order to receive the high dose

of amphetamine. This indicates that consuming

moderate levels of alcohol may increase an individualÕs vulnerability to the effects of

stimulants like amphetamine. But, further research is needed to fully explain

the behavioral and neuropharmacological mechanisms involved between alcohol

consumption and stimulant abuse.

However, one possible explanation the researchers discussed was that the

moderate drinking group might have been sensitized to the reinforcing effects of

the amphetamines because of increased drug use.

ÒSensitization effects to stimulants can be powerful, most notably with

regard to their persistence,Ó said Mark T. Fillmore, a professor of psychology

at the University of Kentucky. ÒWe 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


Rush agrees, but says that there are many different paths of research that

can branch off of this.

ÒOther future directions could be to look at the influence of alcohol use

history on the effects of other drugs of abuse or to determine how acute alcohol

administration, as opposed to self-reported drinking history, impacts response

to stimulants.Ó

Provided by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
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