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Woman Standing on Dock
Woman Standing on Docks

Are the Pleasures of Alcohol All in Your Head?

Interesting blog that presents a study examining how expectancies influence the way alcohol is actually experienced: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leah-odze-epstein/women-and-alcohol_b_1496470.html. I recall years ago consuming a couple of beers at a festive event and feeling the accompanying buzz. It wasn’t until I read the labels on the bottles afterward that I realized I had, in fact, consumed non-alcoholic (N/A) beer (alcohol content each < .5%; hardly enough to cause any form of intoxication). Because I was enjoying myself and believed I was drinking alcohol, I expected to feel the buzz…and I did! Conversely, a client once told me the following story: he was thirsty for a beer before playing golf, but was abstaining from alcohol. He expected that if he were to drink even one beer, he would not be able to control himself and would drink to black out (which can be true for many people). He inquired at the resort’s bar about N/A beer. The friendly bartender served him the one they apparently carried. The client enjoyed the taste and coolness of the drink, but it didn’t affect him. After playing a round of golf he went back for one more N/A beer, only this time a different bartender was there. Much to the client’s surprise, he was told that this bar never carried any N/A beer and that the previous bartender was due for a “talk.” The client had no further cravings or desire for more; if the client had been told before consuming the beer that it was the real thing, it is quite likely his fear of continuous drinking would have materialized based on his expectancies. - Dan Galant, Ph.D.