Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Mark T. Fillmore


Laboratory studies have reliably shown that reduced sensitivity to alcohol’s subjective intoxicating effect is associated with heavier drinking. More recently, there has been research to suggest that heightened sensitivity to the disinhibiting effects of alcohol might also contribute to at-risk drinking. Most research on the acute effects of alcohol has focused on drinking magnitudes averaged across participants with little attention to how individual differences influence abuse potential. This study overcomes previous limitations by testing the degree to which individual differences in acute sensitivity and tolerance to the subjective intoxicating and disinhibiting effects of alcohol predict drinking behavior in a large sample size. Data from six laboratory studies were aggregated to comprise a sample of 200 adults. Participants’ level of subjective intoxication and disinhibition were assessed following 0.65 g/kg alcohol once during the ascending limb of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) curve and again at the same BAC during the descending limb. The measures were also assessed following placebo. Alcohol increased subjective intoxication and disinhibition. At-risk drinking was predicted by low sensitivity to subjective intoxication on the ascending limb and reduced acute tolerance overall. These data suggest that individual variability in subjective intoxication and persistent disinhibition are key predictors of abuse potential.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)