Cue-exposure to alcohol-associated stimuli reduces autonomic reactivity, but not craving and anxiety, in dependent drinkers.

Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire)

PubMedID: 7545986

McCusker CG, Brown K. Cue-exposure to alcohol-associated stimuli reduces autonomic reactivity, but not craving and anxiety, in dependent drinkers. Alcohol Alcohol. 1995;30(3):319-27.
A controlled trial was conducted of cue-exposure with dependent drinkers in treatment. All subjects were engaged in an insight-oriented therapy programme, and responses to an alcohol-associated, compared with a neutral, stimulus were assessed at the beginning and end of treatment. Compared with a control group, which did not receive intervening cue-exposure sessions, subjects who received such interventions manifested reductions in heart rate, salivation and arousal responses to the alcohol-associated, compared with the neutral, stimulus. They did not, however, show similar reductions in subjective estimates of craving and anxiety. These results and the desynchrony in reductions in cue-reactivity across response domains are discussed in terms of their implications for cue-exposure in treatment and recent theorectical conceptualizations of the relationship between autonomic reactivity, craving and drinking behaviour.