Year: 2022 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2022). 26(3), 1060-1071. SIEC No: 20220809
We examined whether the analgesic effect of alcohol mediates the association between alcohol and deliberate self-harm (DSH) using data from a larger study on alcohol effects. Men (n = 106) and women (n = 104) low-risk alcohol drinkers (ages M = 26.00, SD = 6.98) recruited from the community who had no suicide attempt or episode of deliberate self-harm within the past year were randomly assigned to either a placebo drink condition or a drink calibrated to reach approximately .050%, .075%, or .100% blood alcohol concentration. Notable within-condition BAC variability, as well as overlap between conditions, suggested that BAC would be a more accurate indicator of intoxication compared to condition assignment. Pain tolerance was assessed by increasingly intense 1-s shocks delivered via fingertip electrodes. Self-reported pain associated with the pain tolerance index was also examined. A laboratory task of DSH, the Self-Aggression Paradigm, was then completed, with DSH operationalized as the number of self-administered shocks the participant was led to believe were twice the intensity of his or her pain tolerance and could cause “minor tissue damage that would quickly heal.” A negative binomial parallel mediational model for count data revealed that pain tolerance, but not self-report pain, mediated the effect of alcohol on DSH. As such, the current study provides preliminary experimental evidence that the analgesic effect of alcohol is partially responsible for link between alcohol intoxication and deliberate self-harm.