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Effects of acute alcohol intoxication and paroxetine on aggression in men.

Author(s): McCloskey MS, Berman ME, Echevarria DJ, Coccaro EF

Affiliation(s): Pritzker School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA. mmcclosk@yoda.bsd.uchicago.edu

Publication date & source: 2009-04, Alcohol Clin Exp Res., 33(4):581-90. Epub 2009 Jan 12.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to examine the role of the serotonin (5-HT) system in alcohol-related aggression. METHODS: Specifically, we experimentally examined the effects of 5-HT augmentation on alcohol-related aggression in men (n = 56). After consuming either alcohol (mean blood alcohol concentration of 0.10%) or a placebo (no alcohol) drink, and taking either 20 mg of paroxetine (Paxil) or a placebo pill, participants were provided the opportunity to administer electric shock to a (faux) opponent during a task disguised as a reaction-time game. Aggression was defined as the intensity of shock chosen and the frequency with which an extreme (clearly painful) shock was chosen. We predicted that 5-HT augmentation would be associated with lower aggressive behavior overall, and also reduce the aggression facilitating effects of acute alcohol intoxication. RESULTS: The results indicated that alcohol intoxication increased aggression, particularly under low provocation. Paroxetine decreased aggression, particularly during high provocation. These effects, however, occurred independently of each other. CONCLUSIONS: The effect of alcohol on extreme aggression was moderated by previous aggression history, with more aggressive individuals showing greater alcohol-related increases in extreme aggression.

Page last updated: 2009-10-20

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