The effect of acute alcohol intoxication on risk attitude
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There is a strong relationship between engaging in risk taking behaviors, or behaviors with a high probability of negative and undesirable consequences, and the use of alcohol and other substances of abuse. Mounting evidence suggests that dysfunctional decision making contributes to the development and maintenance of addiction and related behaviors. This study explored the effects of acute alcohol intoxication on decision making under risk. Regular drinkers were recruited for a within subjects, placebo controlled, alcohol administration study. They completed a decision-making task at peak alcohol intoxication and at a time matched assessment in a placebo condition, as well as several baseline measures. The aim of this study was to examine whether alcohol intoxication impacts risk attitude. The associations between risk attitude and related personality traits, problematic alcohol use, and alcohol related risk-taking behaviors were also tested. The results of the study suggest that intoxicated risk attitude, and not risk attitude in the placebo condition, is associated with indices of alcohol consumption and to a lesser extent, alcohol consequences. Alcohol intoxication did not significantly impact risk attitude classification. Risk attitude was not associated with impulsive personality traits, alcohol expectancies, or risk-taking behaviors. While risk attitude may have utility for identifying those who are at risk for alcohol problems, tasks designed to assess behavior specific decision processes may be useful for understanding risky patterns of decision making.