Alcohol cue reactivity: Effects of detoxification and extended exposure

P. M. Monti, D. J. Rohsenow, A. V. Rubonis, R. S. Niaura, A. D. Sirota, S. M. Colby, D. B. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alcoholics' reactions to drinking-related stimuli (cue reactivity) have been well documented and alcohol cue exposure treatment has been conducted recently in several clinical trials. Prior to conducting large-scale clinical trials it is important to know what effects detoxification may have on cue reactivity. However, no information is available about the effects of stage of detoxification or of detoxification medication on alcohol cue reactivity. In this study, 45 male alcoholics, detoxified without medication, were assessed during either their second, fourth or sixth day of withdrawal. Further, their reactivity was compared to that of alcoholics detoxified with chlordiazepoxide (n = 15), and to that of alcoholics in their fourth week after drinking (n = 28). Cue reactivity assessment investigated salivation and urge to drink after 3 minutes of water cue exposure and then after 3 minutes of alcohol cue exposure. Urges to drink were assessed during an additional 15 minutes of alcohol exposure to explore latency to maximum reactivity and habituation. Reactivity did not differ as a function of group membership, although salivation was elevated to both beverages during the first week of detoxification. Of the sample, 70% reacted to alcohol with increased urge and 65% with increased salivation, with no difference between groups in proportions of reactors. The maximum urge to drink occurred in the first 6 minutes of alcohol exposure, followed by a gradual and significant decrease. There were no differences on these measures between alcoholics in their first or fourth week after their last drink. Implications for theory and clinical applications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-245
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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