Author(s): Sorocco KH, Lovallo WR, Vincent AS, Collins FL
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Abstinent alcoholics show a blunted stress cortisol response that may be a consequence of drinking or a preexisting risk marker. We tested cortisol responses to psychological stress in 186 18-30 year-old, healthy social drinkers having no personal history of alcohol or drug dependence, 91 of whom had one or two alcoholic parents (FH+) and 95 having no family alcoholism for two generations (FH-). We predicted that, similar to alcoholic patients, the FH+ would have reduced stress cortisol responses that would be partially determined by their temperament characteristics, specifically antisocial tendencies as measured by the California Psychological Inventory. On a stress day, subjects performed continuous simulated public speaking and mental arithmetic tasks for 45 min, and on a control day they sat and rested for the same time period. The FH+ who were low in sociability had smaller cortisol responses than FH-, high-sociability persons (t=2.27, p=.02). These two groups were not different in diurnal cortisol secretion patterns or affective responses to the stressors. Persons with a familial risk for alcoholism who have more antisocial tendencies may have altered central nervous system responses to emotionally relevant social challenges. Disrupted cortisol stress responses may serve as a risk marker for the development of substance use disorders.
This article was published in Int J Psychophysiol
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy