Men, but not women, drink beer faster when in pain, study finds

Men, but not women, drink beer faster when in pain, study finds

Men, but not women, drink beer faster when in pain, study finds

A study in a virtual reality bar evaluated the effects of being subjected to painful heat on alcohol consumption. The results showed that the men reduced the intervals between sips of the alcoholic beverage, but did not drink more with each sip. They only drank faster. Women, on the other hand, were not affected. The study was published in Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology.

Chronic pain is a problem experienced by approximately 20% of people in the United States. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain conditions inflict $560 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity each year.

Previous studies have indicated that experimental pain induction increases the urge and intention to drink alcohol. Additionally, 73% of people seeking treatment for an alcohol use disorder report experiencing moderate to severe pain in the past month. About 25% of people approve of pain self-management using alcohol.

On the other hand, it has been shown that the consumption of alcohol has the effect of increasing the pain threshold and reducing the intensity of the pain. Unfortunately, research models indicate that pain and substance use, including alcohol use, form a positive feedback loop in which both conditions worsen over time.

“There is substantial evidence that pain contributes to hazardous alcohol use for many people, including large epidemiological studies that many pain sufferers report using alcohol for pain relief and experimental studies showing that pain can increase people’s motivation to use alcohol,” said study author Jeff Boissoneault. , associate professor and co-director of the Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health at the University of Florida.

“Our goal in this study was to determine whether pain would affect not only motivation to drink, but also the way people drink alcohol. This is an important distinction because the way someone drinks alcohol (for example, having a drink or having a beer) can modify the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

“We expected that feeling pain would lead participants to drink more quickly, and that this effect would be stronger in men and people with certain personality traits, such as a tendency to act impulsively to relieve distress (also called “negative urgency”) We conducted the study using our new virtual reality bar software, called INTACT VR, which helps ensure that all participants experienced the same environment while drinking.

Participants were 20 adults, all required to be current drinkers, meaning having drunk at least one alcoholic beverage per month in the past 6 months, aged 21 to 55. Participants included in the study also had to fulfill a number of health criteria ensuring that they were in good physical health, without major disorders, without a history of drug or alcohol dependence, that they did not were not pregnant, were not planning to become pregnant or were not breastfeeding.

Prior to the start of the experiment, participants completed a screening battery containing questions about demographics and ratings of typical drinking, alcohol use disorder symptomatology, attitudes toward pain, expectations about the effects of alcohol, and impulsivity on pain reduction. They also performed depression and anxiety assessments. Additionally, they performed a urine-based drug and pregnancy screen and a baseline blood alcohol test.

After the tests, the participants received a virtual reality headset and glasses and were immersed in a virtual reality bar environment. They were asked to drink a 12 oz bottle of strong beer or cider (alcohol content 5%) at their own pace. During the session, a device was attached to their right calf which could create localized pain by using heat of different intensity.

The researchers used two experimental conditions. In one condition, the participant’s calf was heated to 38°C. It was unpleasantly hot, but not painful. In the other condition, the participant’s calf was heated to a painful temperature of 44°C. All participants went through both conditions, but in random order. A session lasted 15 minutes.

The results showed that the men significantly reduced the time between sips of their drink (beer or dark cider) when exposed to painful heat compared to the condition where the heat was simply unpleasant. The experimental condition did not affect sip volume, i.e. the amount of beer/black cider they drank in each sip.

Surprisingly, the experimental condition did not alter women’s drinking behavior. The effect of painful heat was also found to be stronger “in individuals with higher levels of higher negative urgency, but the opposite effect (was found) for catastrophic pain,” the researchers noted. .

“In my opinion, the most important finding of this study is that pain can not only increase a person’s motivation to drink alcohol, but also their drinking rate,” Boissoneault told PsyPost. “This seems to be especially true for men and people with higher negative urgency. This in turn may lead to an increased risk of alcohol-related consequences, including accidents or injuries, socio-legal problems, health problems and the development of alcohol use disorders And unfortunately, although drinking alcohol can relieve pain at the time, it can also make pain worse over time.

The study sheds light on the links between drinking behavior and pain. However, it should be noted that the study sample was small and selected. In addition, the study did not inflict severe pain, the pain was only sharp and lasted for a very short time. Results in people with severe and long-lasting pain may not be the same.

“Although we have a sufficient sample to test our main hypotheses, larger studies will be needed to better understand the characteristics that might make individuals more likely to use alcohol to self-manage their pain,” said said Boissoneault. “There is also a need to develop treatments or interventions that help break the link between pain and alcohol use to reduce the risk of chronic pain and alcohol use disorder.”

“Any readers concerned about their alcohol consumption or that of a friend or loved one living in the United States should consult the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse’s Alcohol Treatment Navigator and alcoholism ( I would also encourage them to see a doctor if they feel pain is contributing to the problem to help them identify alternative treatment strategies for Similarly, physicians and other health care providers who work with people with pain or alcohol use disorders should be aware that these conditions are often comorbid.

The study, “Pain and Alcohol Consumption in Virtual Reality,” was authored by Christina Gilmour, Shelby Blaes, Nicholas J. Bush, Darya Vitus, Ryan W. Carpenter, Michael Robinson, and Jeff Boissoneault.

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