Effects of Acute Alcohol Intoxication and Paroxetine on Aggression in Men
Article first published online: 12 JAN 2009
Copyright © 2009 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 33, Issue 4, pages 581–590, April 2009
How to Cite
McCloskey, M. S., Berman, M. E., Echevarria, D. J. and Coccaro, E. F. (2009), Effects of Acute Alcohol Intoxication and Paroxetine on Aggression in Men. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 33: 581–590. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00872.x
- Issue published online: 25 MAR 2009
- Article first published online: 12 JAN 2009
- Received for publication August 12, 2008; accepted October 29, 2008.
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.