Just the smell of alcohol can an increase a person’s risk of addiction, a new study shows.
The reasons behind addiction vary greatly, with factors such as genetics, tolerance and childhood experiences just three possible cause. However the smell of booze has never been listed, until now. Dr Rebecca Monk, of Edge Hill University in the U.K., and her team have uncovered startling new evidence that may explain why people are drink dependent.
Through a computer-based study scientists were able to determine that just a smell of alcohol can make it harder for people to control their behaviour.
Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, the team looked at a group of participants who had to wear a face mask. Some of the group’s mask had an alcoholic citrus solution in it, while the rest of the participant’s had a non-alcoholic version.
The group had to then press a button when either the letter K or a picture of a beer bottle appeared on screen. When the participants incorrectly pressed the button, it was recorded as a false alarm. These false alarms were an indicator that the person’s ability to inhibit their behaviour when they were expected to had decreased.
“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,” Dr Rebecca Monk said.
She added: “We know that alcohol behaviours are shaped by our environment including who we’re with and the settings in which we drink.
“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.”
Her colleague Dr Derek Heim points out that other studies in this field will help to further understanding of addiction and substance abuse.