The degree to which distinct behavioral components of impulsivity predict alcohol consumption is as yet not well-understood. Further, the possibility that this relation might be more pronounced in groups characterized by heightened impulsivity (i.e., individuals with ADHD) has not been tested.
The current study examined the degree to which three specific behavioral components of impulsivity (i.e., poor response inhibition, poor attentional inhibition, and increased risk-taking) were associated with quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption in a group of young adult social drinkers with ADHD (n = 33) and in a comparison control group (n = 21). Participants performed the delayed ocular return task (attentional inhibition), the cued go/no-go task (behavioral inhibition), and the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (risk-taking).
Both poor behavioral inhibition and greater risk-taking were related to greater quantity of consumption in the entire sample, whereas poor attentional inhibition was related to greater quantity specifically among those with ADHD. By contrast, only risk-taking was associated with frequency of consumption, and this was found specifically in the control group.
These findings provide important information regarding the potential role of distinct behavioral components of impulsivity in drinking behavior, and highlight unique relevance of attentional impairments to drinking behavior in those with ADHD.