Alcohol smell tempts us into boozing
Why is alcohol so addictive? According to a new study, for some people, the mere smell of booze can send them on a downwards spiral towards dependency.
Washington DC: Why is alcohol so addictive? According to a new study, for some people, the mere smell of booze can send them on a downwards spiral towards dependency.
The Edge Hill University researchers found that the smell of alcohol may make it harder for people to control their behaviour.
During the computer-based study, participants were asked to wear a face mask that was either laced with alcohol, or a non-alcoholic citrus solution. Participants were then instructed to press a button when either the letter K or a picture of a beer bottle appeared on their screen.
The researchers measured the number of times the participants incorrectly pressed the button causing a 'false alarm'. These false alarms indicate a reduction in the participant's power to inhibit their behaviour when they were expected to.
Dr. Rebecca Monk said that the team found that the number of these 'false alarms' were higher in participants who were wearing the alcohol treated mask, adding ""We know that alcohol behaviours are shaped by our environment including who we're with and the settings in which we drink."
Monk noted that this research is a first attempt to explore other triggers, such as smell, that may interfere with people's ability to refrain from a particular behaviour. For example, during the experiment it seemed that just the smell of alcohol was making it harder for participants to control their behaviour to stop pressing a button.
Researcher Derek Heim said that their hope is that by increasing the understanding of how context shapes substance-use behaviours, they will be able to make interventions more sensitive to the different situations in which people consume substances.
The study is published in the Psychopharmacology journal.