Psychology ETDs

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Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are pervasive in society and notoriously difficult to treat successfully. Incorporation of a member of the social network into the therapeutic framework for treating AUDs has been found to improve treatment outcomes compared to individual-focused treatments. The goal of this study was to examine the effects of concerned significant others (CSO) on drinkers neural response to alcohol cues. A sample of social to heavy drinkers (n = 16) completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan. During the scan, participants completed an alcohol cue reactivity task twice; one time by themselves, and another time while holding the hand of their CSO. Both participants and their CSOs completed a brief battery of psychological questionnaires. Results showed minimal neural activation in response to the cue reactivity paradigm. The interaction of hand condition by alcohol cue reactivity showed some significant activation in the areas of the medial prefrontal cortex, an area implicated in alcohol use disorders and evaluation of reward. This pattern of activation appeared to be moderated by CSO level of drinking, CSO support for abstinence, and relationship satisfaction. Possible reasons for the failure to detect a significant effect of alcohol cues on neural response are discussed. The implications of the current study, as well as potential future directions also are addressed.

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First Advisor

McCrady, Barbara

First Committee Member (Chair)

Hutchison, Kent

Second Committee Member

Tonigan, J. Scott




Alcoholism--Alternative treatment, Alcoholism--Treatment--Social aspects.

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