New Search

2001 March

Alcohol and Sexual Disinhibition among College Students

William George, PhD
Associate Professor


Susan Stoner, PhD

Description: Alcohol-related sexual risk tasking is a problem among American college students. Potential risks of intoxicated sex include sexual assault, STD/HIV transmission, and unplanned pregnancy. However, little is known about how alcohol may engender sexually risky behavior. Alcohol has long been popularly assumed to disinhibit sexual expression, but the mechanisms behind this phenomenon have not been rigorously examined. Current theory suggests that people become more sexual after drinking because they expect such an effect; however, numerous studies have shown that cognitive functioning is impaired at higher doses of alcohol, such that expectancies may not be so influential over behavior. Our overarching hypotheses are as follows. Alcohol expectancies determine post-drinking sexual behavior only at low doses of alcohol. At higher doses, alcohol expectancies are less influential over behavior because cognition is impaired. Post-drinking sexual behaviors at higher doses of alcohol are determined by more primitive cognitive structures, termed implicit attitudes. We plan to measure implicit and explicit attitudes in 160 undergraduate men and women., Subjects will be administered no alcohol or a low or high dose of alcohol. Executive cognitive function will be measured before and after the beverage administration. After the beverage administration, subjects will be asked to look at sexually explicit images on a computer screen. The amount of time spent looking at each image ("sexual interest") will be covertly recorded. In addition, subjective measures of sexual arousal will be made. We hypothesize that sexual interest and arousal will be a function primarily of implicit sexual attitudes among cognitively-impaired intoxicated subjects, of alcohol expectancies among less-cognitively-impaired subjects, and of explicit sexual attitudes among sober subjects.

Resulting articles & projects:

  • Data from this project were used in the successful application for an R01 grant "Women's HIV Risk: Alcohol Intoxication, Victimization History & Partner Factors," funded by NIAAA 2007-2012. 5R01AA016281-04.
  • Stoner SA, George WH, Peters LM, Norris J. Liquid courage: alcohol fosters risky sexual decision-making in individuals with sexual fears. AIDS Behav 2007;11(2):227-37. [PubMed abstract]
  • George WH, Norris J, Davis KC, Heiman JR, Stoner SA, Zawacki T, Schacht RL, Hendershot CS, Kajumulo KF. Alcohol and HIVIAIDS risk-taking: "In-the-moment" states, myopia, and the search for mediating mechanisms. Paper session conducted at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Washington, DC., April 2005.
  • Stoner SA, George WH, Schacht Rl, Kajumulo KF. Alcohol, sexual victimization history, traumatic sexualization, and sexual risk-taking. In S. A Stoner & W. H. George (Chairs), Sexual victimization, alcohol intoxication, and sexual risk-taking in women. Roundtable conducted at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, HI, August 2004.
  • Stoner SA,George WH, Kajumulo KF, Norris J. Alcohol, expectancies, and sexual risk-taking. In W. H. George (Chair), Alcohol and sexual risk. Paper session conducted at the meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism, Vancouver, BC, Canada, June 2004.
  • Stoner SA, Peters IM, George WH, Norris J, Kajumulo KF. Alcohol myopia, fear of STD, and risky sexual decision-making. In J. Delamater (Chair), Alcohol, drugs, and sexual risk-taking. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, San Antonio, TX, November 2003.
  • George WH, Stoner SA, Norris J, Kajumulo KF, Heiman J. Acute alcohol intoxication, sexual arousal, and risky sexual decision-making. In R. Freeman (Chair), Experimental research into the effects of alcohol on HIV-risky sexual behaviors. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism, Fort Lauderdale, FL, June 2003.
  • Stoner SA, George WH, Kajumulo KF, Norris J. Alcohol, myopia, expectancies, and risky sexual decision-making. In A. Farnos & A. Gonzalez (Chairs), Sexual behavior, risks and condoms. Symposium conducted at the 16th World Congress of Sexology, Havana, Cuba, March 2003.
  • Stoner SA (2003). Alcohol and sexual disinhibition among college students (Doctoral dissertation, University of Washington). Dissertation Abstracts International, 64, 2407.

A Parametric Examination of the Effects of 60-Hz Magnetic Fields on Ethanol Consumption in the Rat

Henry Lai, PhD
Research Professor


Description: The focus of the proposed research stems from concerns about the biological and health effects of exposure to magnetic fields in our environment. Magnetic fields are emitted from all electrical household appliances and machines in occupational settings. Millions of people are being chronically exposed to these fields. There is evidence from our laboratory and others that exposure to magnetic fields below the national and international magnetic field exposure guidelines causes an increase in activity of endogenous opioids in the brain of rats. Since opioid activity in the brain has been associated with an increase in ethanol consumption, we propose to investigate whether acute exposure to magnetic fields can enhance ethanol drinking behavior in the rat. The initial challenge is to identify specific magnetic field exposure parameters that interact with variables that influence ethanol consumption. This study proposes to investigate the effects of two variables on ethanol consumption in the rat, the intensity of magnetic field (0.0 mT (sham), 0.05 mT, 0.1 mT, and 0.5 mT) and the delay (30, 60, and 120 min.) between exposure and access to 10% ethanol (v/v). Twelve groups of animals will be matched based upon a 14-day two-bottle ethanol preference test given prior to the magnetic field exposure sessions to determine the amount of any lasting ethanol preference changes. Finally, if effects on ethanol consumption are observed in the parametric study, two studies will be run using the most efficacious parameters of magnetic field exposure. The first experiment will determine whether the effects of magnetic exposure are specific to ethanol by measuring changes in water intake following exposure. In the other experiment, animals will be given an opioid antagonist prior to magnetic exposure to determine the involvement of endogenous opioid systems on magnetic field-induced ethanol intake.

Normative Feedback Intervention Project

Clayton Neighbors, PhD
Assistant Professor

Addictive Behaviors Research Center, Psychology, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Mary E. Larimer, PhD, Research Assistant Professor (original PI)

Description: An estimated 44% of college students nationwide report periodic heavy drinking episodes with about half of these engaging in multiple heavy drinking episodes on a monthly basis. Given the established relations among heavy drinking and academic, legal, interpersonal and health problems, identification of effective, low-cost interventions for this population represents an important endeavor.

Interventions designed to correct misperceived drinking norms have recently demonstrated efficacy for addressing heavy drinking among college students. Unfortunately, individual brief interventions that include normative feedback have typically not been designed in a way that allows unique evaluation of this component. The proposed research seeks to evaluate the unique impact of personalized normative feedback on drinking patterns and associated problems among heavy drinking college students. In addiction, the motivational mechanisms underlying the efficacy of normative influence in alcohol interventions will be explored in detail.

Participants will include 300 heavy drinking University of Washington students who will be randomly assigned to intervention conditions. After completing a baseline computer assessment, participants in the intervention condition will receive personalized normative feedback highlighting actual drinking norms and the discrepancy between their drinking behavior and typical student drinking practices. Follow-up assessments will take place at three months and six months post-baseline.

The goals of this project are to assess the effectiveness of a personalized normative-feedback alcohol intervention, assess the role of motivation in this process, and to lay the foundation for a larger study examining the unique contribution of brief intervention components.

Resulting articles & projects:

  • The pilot data from this ADAI-funded project were instrumental in the successful application by Clayton Neighbors for a 5-year R01 grant from NIAAA, "Social Norms and Alcohol Prevention (SNAP)," lR01AA014576.
  • That NIAAA R01 produced numerous publications.
  • Dr. Neighbors also used the data for a grant "Computer Based Normative Feedback Intervention for Higher Risk Drinking: Evaluating Duration of Efficacy NDSU-Grant in Aid," North Dakota State University Grant in Aid (NDSU 1111-3390, $2,750 Total direct costs; 2003-2004).
  • Neighbors C, Palmer RS, Larimer ME. Interest and participation in a college student alcohol intervention study as a function of typical drinking. J Stud Alcohol 2004;65(6):736-40. PubMed abstract.
  • Neighbors C, Larimer ME, Lewis MA. Targeting misperceptions of descriptive drinking norms: efficacy of a computer-delivered personalized normative feedback intervention. J Consult Clin Psychol 2004;72(3):434-47. PubMed abstract.
  • Neighbors C. Evaluating Personalized Normative Feedback as a Stand ¬≠Alone Intervention forHigh RiskDrinkers. Paper to presented at the annual convention of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, New Orleans, LA, November 2004.
  • Neighbors C, Lewis MA. Correcting normative misperceptions as a strategy for reducing heavy drinking among college students. Paper presented at the 96th annual meeting of the North Dakota Academy of Science, Fargo, ND, April 2004
  • Neighbors C, Lewis MA, McDonald RL. Prevention and health consequences ofinterpersonal misperceptions. Paper presented at the annual convention of the North Central College Health Association, Grand Forks, ND, October 2003

Alcohol and Executive Cognitive Functioning: Influences on Men's Judgments and Self-Reported Likelihood of Engaging in Sexual Assault

Jeanette Norris, PhD
Senior Scientist

Alcohol and Drug Abuse lnstitute

Kelly Cue Davis, PhD; Joel Martell, PhD

Description: Alcohol consumption is consistently implicated in men's sexual assault of women. "Alcohol myopia" is theorized to facilitate sexual assault by narrowing a drinker's attention to a subset of environmental and internal cues. The mechanisms underlying this myopic response are not well understood. One possible mechanism through which alcohol might facilitate sexual assault is by physiological impairment of executive cognitive functioning (ECF). ECF includes "higher-order" mental abilities, such as self-regulation, and the ability to use cues in the environment and within oneself to adaptively adjust behavior. Research has documented that alcohol intoxication disrupts ECT, and that it may serve as an underlying etiological mechanism for the alcohol-aggression relationship. However, no study to date has applied this reasoning to alcohol-related sexual assault. By disrupting ECF, alcohol may decrease men's ability to accurately perceive situational cues related to a woman's refusal for sex. One study will investigate whether ECF might mediate differences between intoxicated and sober non-problem drinking college men's judgments of sexual assault and their subsequent self-reported likelihood to pursue sexual intercourse in the face of a woman's refusals. In addition to alcohol consumption, the proposed study will vary two contextual variables thought to affect men's responses: female story character alcohol consumption and prior consensual sexual intercourse in a sexual assault analogue.

Resulting articles & projects:

  • Dr. Davis used these data to secure 2 grants; one was from the Alcohol Beverage Medical Research Foundation (2005-2007), titled "The Effects of Alcohol Consumption, Partner Drinking, and Violence on Heterosexual HIV Risk."
  • Dr. Davis also used the data in a successful application to NIAAA for an R21 grant titled "Heterosexual HIV Risk: Effects of Men's Alcohol Use and Sexual Violence." R21 AA016283.
  • Martell J, Zawacki T, Norris J. George WH. Alcohol and Executive Cognitive Functioning: Influences on Men's Perceptions of Unwanted Sexual Advances. Presented at Research Society on Alcoholism.
  • Martell J, Zawacki T, Norris J, George WH. "Alcohol and Executive Cognitive Functioning: Influences on Men's Perceptions of Unwanted Sexual Advances." Presented at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism, Vancouver, Canada, June 26-30, 2004.

2001 October

Fluctuating Asymmetry and Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol

Laura Newell, PhD (Newell-Morris)
Assistant Professor


Description: The development of the dermatologic system occurs between 6 and 24 weeks gestation, and thereafter remains unchanged. Thus, it presents a marker for early perturbations in development, and has successfully been used in studies of genetic diseases. Its potential, however, has not been widely put to use for studying syndrome of environmental etiology, such as maternal consumption of alcohol.

In this project, researchers will assess levels of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) in dermatologic traits in order to explore effects from prenatal alcohol exposure. The primary aim of this research is to develop methods and diagnostic criteria for studying developmental perturbations resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure. The proposed study will examine the relationship between prenatal alcohol exposure and asymmetry in dermatologic traits. Dermatologic traits will be read from finger and palm prints from a sample of 193 individuals diagnosed with FAS/E and 190 unexposed controls. Researchers will determine those dermatologic traits, or combinations thereof, that are most diagnostic if prenatal exposure to alcohol. In addition, they will explore the prediction that the timing of alcohol exposure can be detected in the dermatologic system, using an approach based on the gradient of development in the hand.

Craving, Consumption, and PTSD Symptomatology in Early Recovery from Alcohol Use Disorders Assessed by IVR Telephone Monitoring

Tracy Simpson, PhD
Assistant Professor

Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Andrew J. Saxon, MD (Co-investigator)

Description: No prospective data are available on the temporal relationship between alcohol craving, alcohol use, and PTSD symptomatology among treatment-seeking individuals in early recovery. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility, concurrent validity, and measurement reactivity of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone monitoring over a 30 day time period. The effects of daily and weekly schedules of symptom monitoring will be compared with a no-monitoring condition.

Thirty male and 30 female adults in treatment for alcohol use disorders at two community treatment programs will be randomized to participate in the study. They will be assigned to one of three conditions stratified by gender: 1) daily monitoring, 2) weekly monitoring, or 3) no monitoring. IVR via telephone will be used to assess alcohol craving, alcohol use, and PTSD symptoms on a daily or weekly basis. Baseline and 3-day follow-up interviews will include the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Form and the Timeline Follow-back. Between group likelihood ratios will be computed to evaluate aspects of feasibility and measurement reactivity. IVR reports or craving, consumption, and PTSD symptomatology will be compared with 3-day retrospective data to evaluate concurrent validity. Improved understanding of the temporal relationship between PTSD symptomatology and alcohol outcomes in early recovery would potentially lead to more effective interventions for people struggling with alcohol use disorders and PTSD. In addition, establishing the feasibility of IVR telephone monitoring in a recovering sample will add an efficient technique for use in other outcome evaluations.

Resulting articles & projects:

  • The positive feasibility results from this study were used, in part, to provide justification for a subsequent funded ADAI small grant examining day-to-day alcohol craving and use among alcohol dependent treatment seeking individuals randomly assigned to either prazosin or placebo in a double-blind medication pilot trial: Simpson T. A double-blind placebo-¬≠controlled trial of Prazosin for the treatment of alcohol dependence. (ADAl Small Grant, October 2004; total direct costs ¬≠$18,585.) The October 2004 grant was instrumental in getting a 5-year grant from NIAAA described elsewhere.
  • These results were also used to provide support for a daily monitoring component of an NIDA proposal examining the utility of prazosin for cocaine dependence. This grant was not funded initially, but revisions will commence when the summary statements are available.
  • Simpson TL, Kivlahan DR, Bush K, McFall M. Telephone self-monitoring among alcohol use disorder patients in early recovery: A randomized study of feasibility and measurement reactivity. Drug Alcohol Depend 2005;79:241-250. [PubMed abstract]
  • Simpson TL, Jakupcak M, Luterek J. Fear and avoidance of internal experiences among patients with Substance Use Disorders and PTSD: The centrality of Anxiety Sensitivity. J Traumatic Stress 2006;19(4):481-91. [Pubmed abstract]

Role of PKA in Drug Abuse

G. Stanley McKnight, PhD


John P. Jones, PhD

Description: During chronic administration of drugs such as cocaine, the Protein Kinase A (PKA) pathway undergoes adaptive changes that have been hypothesized to form the basis of drug addiction. This hypothesis will be tested using mouse genetic approaches to modify the PKA pathway and produce well-characterized and long lasting changes in PKA functions in the specific neuronal pathways implicated in drug addiction. The specific aims of this project are to create mice with dominant negative or constitutively active mutations in PKA that are only expressed in neurons that co-express Cre recombinase. These mice will then be used to test the hypothesis that chronic changes in PKA activity can modulate the reinforcing effects of cocaine. Our long-term goal is to understand the relationship between PKA activity and drug addiction using mice as a model system.

Resulting articles & projects:

  • The ADAI grant funded the work of a senior fellow, John P. Jones, who was then successful in obtaining an NRSA grant "Activating and Inhibatory PKA Mutations in Drug Abuse: from NIDA: 5F32DA018502
  • In addition, the data collected helped in obtaining funding for a 5-year NIDA grant "Molecular Components Underlying Drug Abuse" (PI: Charles Chavkin) 5P01DA015916-05
  • Niswender CM, Willis BS, Wallen A, Sweet IR, Jetton TL, Thompson BR, Wu C, Lange AJ, McKnight GS. Cre recombinase-dependent expression of a constitutively active mutant allele of the catalytic subunit of protein kinase A. Genesis 2005;43(3):109-19. Pubmed abstract.
  • Work was presented at the Gordon Research Conference on Hormone Action, July 2003

Cognition Among Methamphetamine Abusers in Recovery

Kristy Straits-Troster, PhD
Acting Assistant Professor

Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Description: Methamphetamine administration has been found to neurotoxic to dopamine neuron terminals in laboratory animals. Preliminary reports in human methamphetamine abusers suggest a similar reduction in dopamine transporters in the striatum and associated impairment on psychomotor and verbal learning tasks. Cross-sectional data indicate that methamphetamine abusers experience cognitive deficits that may persist as long as one year after detoxification, with performance on some tasks actually worsening in the first 60 days after detoxification. No longitudinal studies of cognitive changes following abstinence from chronic methamphetamine use have been published, and there are no validated treatments for methamphetamine dependence or associated cognitive problems. This project aims to: 1) determine the feasibility of longitudinal assessment of cognition among recovering methamphetamine abusers; and 2) characterize cognitive impairment and estimate effect size of changes in cognitive function during the first 30 days of methamphetamine abstinence. Patients admitted to a 30-day inpatient treatment program for methamphetamine dependence at Kitsap Recovery Center will be sequentially recruited (n-50) to participate. Subjects will be administered a battery of neuropsychological tests within 3-10 days of admission (Time 1), and a second assessment will be administered during the last week of treatment, 21 days after admission (Time 2). Co-morbid diagnoses, medications and history will be determined by chart review. Performance on standardized tests will be compared to age, education, sex, and race-adjusted normative data. Within-subject change in performance will be tested via MANOVA for each cognitive domain, and significant change within a domain will be followed by paired t-tests for individual tests within that domain. Results may have implications for the design of cognitive-behavioral treatment interventions, and may lead to development of pharmacologic treatments to ameliorate cognitive deficits for the growing population of recovering methamphetamine-dependent individuals.

Resulting articles & projects:

  • Dr. Straits-Trosser was able to secure $127,300 in support from Janssen Medical Affairs LLC to study "Long-Acting Injectable Risperidone in the Treatment of Methamphetamine Dependence."
  • Jaffe C, Bush KR, Straits-Troster K, Romwall L, Rosenbaum G, Meredith C, Cherrier M, Saxon A. A comparison of methamphetamine-dependent inpatients with and without childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptomatology. J Addictive Diseases 24:133-152, 2005. Pubmed abstract
  • Straits-Troster KA, Rippeth J, Romwall L, Rosenbaum G, Bush K, Saxon A. Cognitive changes among methamphetamine abusers in early recovery. Presented at the 31st Annual International Neuropsychological Society Conference, Honolulu, HI, February 2003. J Int Neuropsychological Soc 2003;9(2):200. [abstract]
  • Saxon AJ, Straits-Troster KA, Rippeth J, Romwall L, Rosenbaum G, Bush K. Longitudinal cognitive changes among methamphetamine dependent patients in early abstinence. Presented at the 65th Annual Meeting of College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Bal Harbour, FL, June 2003.

Powered by DB/Text WebPublisher, from Inmagic WebPublisher PRO