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Home > Research Articles > Alcohol Initially Packs Bigger Punch for Some

Reuters Health

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Alcohol Initially Packs Bigger Punch for Some August 16, 2002 05:21 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with a family history of alcoholism may respond more intensely to alcohol's initial intoxicating effects and develop a tolerance within a few hours, new study finding suggest.

This may cause them to drink more alcohol so they can get back the initial buzz they were feeling when they first started drinking, explained Dr. Sandra L. Morzorati of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, in an interview with Reuters Health.

In the current investigation, Morzorati and colleagues wanted to know how people with a family history of alcoholism respond to feelings of intoxication compared to those from families without the drinking disorder. Their study results are published in the August issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

To do so, the team looked at 58 adults who had at least two members of their family--be it a parent, sibling, cousin, aunt or uncle--that were alcoholics and compared them with 58 adults from non-alcoholic families. None of the participants were alcoholics themselves.

The researchers administered alcohol directly into the participants' blood and gave them breath tests that measured the amount of alcohol in their system. Blood alcohol levels were held constant at 0.06, slightly below the legal limit of 0.08.

After 20 minutes, those with a family history of alcoholism reported "more intense levels of intoxication" compared to the other group, Morzoroti explained. "At 2 hours, when they had adapted to the alcohol, they were not feeling as big of a punch as they were after just 20 minutes," she said.

The experiment, noted the researcher, revealed that people with a greater risk of alcohol dependence appear to have a distinct response to moderate alcohol consumption.

"It's been known for some time that people with a family history of alcohol (abuse) are more likely to have a genetic predisposition for alcoholism. The findings of our study support that further," she said.

SOURCE: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 2002;26:1299-1305.