Acute stress is thought to precipitate alcohol drinking. Yet the ways that acute stress can increase alcohol consumption are unclear. A new study investigated whether different phases of response to an acute stressor can alter the subjective effects of alcohol. Findings indicate bi-directional relationships between alcohol and stress.
Childs explained that the body's reaction to stress involves separate physiological and emotional consequences that occur at different times after the stress. "For example," she said, "the increase in heart rate and blood pressure, the release of cortisol, and also the increased feelings of tension and negative mood each reach a climax and dissipate at a different rate. Therefore, drinking more alcohol might have different effects, depending on how long after the stress a person drinks."