• Mecamylamine;
  • Alcohol;
  • Subjective Effects

Background: Recent studies have implicated central nicotinic cholinergic receptor systems in the reinforcing properties of alcohol. In laboratory animals, mecamylamine, a central nicotinic receptor antagonist, reduces the consumption of and preference for alcohol. This study investigated the effect of mecamylamine on the subjective responses to alcohol in humans. It was hypothesized that mecamylamine (7.5 and 15 mg) would attenuate the stimulant-like subjective effects of alcohol (0.8 g/kg) and decrease the self-reported desire to consume additional alcohol beverages.

Methods: Fourteen male and 13 female nonsmokers participated in 6 laboratory sessions. During each session, subjects received, in randomized order under double-blinded conditions, a capsule containing mecamylamine (7.5 or 15 mg) or placebo followed by a beverage containing alcohol (0.8 g/kg) or placebo. Physiologic and subjective-effect measures were taken at 30-min intervals for 2 hr after beverage consumption.

Results: Mecamylamine attenuated the stimulant and euphoric effects of alcohol and reduced the self-reported desire to consume additional alcohol beverages. This effect was most pronounced in men, even though women exhibited greater physiologic reactions to mecamylamine.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that nicotinic cholinergic receptors are involved in mediating some of the stimulant-like effects of alcohol.