The alcohol purchase task in young men from the general population


Background: The alcohol purchase task (APT), which presents a scenario and asks participants how many drinks they would purchase and consume at different prices, has been used among students and small clinical samples to obtain measures of alcohol demand but not in large, general population samples. Methods: We administered the APT to a large sample of young men from the general population (Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors). Participants who reported drinking in the past year (n= 4790), reported on past 12 months alcohol use, on DSM-5 alcohol use disorder (AUD) criteria and on alcohol related consequences were included. Results: Among the APT's demand parameters, intensity was 8.7 (SD=6.5) indicating that, when drinks are free, participants report a planned consumption of almost 9 drinks. The maximum alcohol expenditure (Omax) was over 35CHF (1CHF=1.1USD) and the demand became elastic (Pmax) at 8.4CHF (SD=5.6). The mean price at which the consumption was suppressed was 15.6CHF (SD=5.4). Exponential equation provided a satisfactory fit to individual responses (mean R2: 0.8, median: 0.8). Demand intensity was correlated with alcohol use, number of AUD criteria and number of consequences (all r≥0.3, p<0.0001). Omax was correlated with alcohol use (p<0.0001). The elasticity parameter was weakly correlated with alcohol use in the expected direction. Conclusion: The APT measures are useful in characterizing demand for alcohol in young men in the general population. Demand may provide a clinically useful index of strength of motivation for alcohol use in general population samples.

Publication Title

Drug and Alcohol Dependence