Suggestibility is associated with alcohol self-administration, subjective alcohol effects, and self-reported drinking behavior

Citation:

Stangl BL, Schuster RM, Schneider A, Dechert A, Potter KW, Hareli M, Mahmud F, Yalin ER, Ramchandani VA, Gilman JM. Suggestibility is associated with alcohol self-administration, subjective alcohol effects, and self-reported drinking behavior. J Psychopharmacol. 2019;33 (7) :769-778.

Date Published:

2019 07

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Suggestibility, defined as an individual's inclination to accept and internalize messages, has not been studied in relation to alcohol use. Peer conformity, a component of suggestibility, may be related to alcohol use, as peer groups show similarities in patterns of alcohol use. Few studies have assessed how suggestibility and peer conformity relate to alcohol self-administration or to reinforcing effects of alcohol. AIMS: This study assessed whether suggestibility and peer conformity were associated with drinking behavior, alcohol self-administration, subjective response to alcohol, and drinking motives and expectancies. METHODS: Study 1 participants were alcohol drinkers (n=20), who completed a laboratory study of free-access intravenous alcohol self-administration. Study 2 participants were adolescents and young adults, age 14-25 (n=150), with lifetime alcohol use. Participants completed surveys of suggestibility and drinking patterns (Study 1 and 2), subjective alcohol effects (Study 1 only), and alcohol motives and expectancies (Study 2 only). RESULTS/OUTCOMES: In Study 1, participants with higher levels of suggestiblity self-administered more alcohol, and reported greater subjective alcohol effects. Peer conformity, though correlated with suggestibility, was not related to these measures. In Study 2, participants with higher suggestiblity reported more alcohol consumption, higher drinking motives and alcohol expectancies. Peer conformity was not related to alcohol consumption, but was related to coping and enhancement drinking motives, and all expectancies measures. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Results indicate that suggestibility, beyond peer conformity, may be a critical factor to study when examining alcohol consumption behavior, and may provide insight into the development of alcohol use disorder.