March 1978

'Loss of Control' in Alcoholics

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978;35(3):370-373. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770270120012

• This study evaluates the ability of alcoholics to regulate their blood alcohol levels (BAL) within a designated range by relying primarily on interoceptive cues. Forty male alcoholics and 20 control subjects were exposed to an initial training session in which they received sufficient ethanol to maintain them within a designated BAL range over a 21/2-hour period. They were then exposed to two experimental sessions, one providing "overfeedback" and one "underfeedback." During each session, subjects had ten drinking decisions to make with respect to regulation of their BAL. The results indicated that alcoholics displayed greater "loss-of-control" than control subjects. This finding supported the hypothesis that alcoholics may possess a neurophysiologic feedback dysfunction that contributes to their relative inability to regulate ethanol intake.