Recent research has determined that simply smelling alcohol can have an impact on substance abuse and behavior, causing individuals to have more difficulty in controlling their behavior. Researchers at Edge Hill University in England gave study participants a face mask, with some receiving a face mask that was alcohol laced while others received a mask that was laced with a citrus scent instead. The study participants had to press a specific button when they saw either a beer bottle picture or the letter K on the computer screen. Study participants who were wearing the face mask laced with alcohol tended to have a higher number of false alarms.
Edge Hill University psychology senior lecturer Dr. Rebecca Monk explained the study on alcohol and substance abuse, saying “We know that alcohol behaviors 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 behavior. For example, during the experiment it seemed that just the smell of alcohol was making it harder for participants to control their behavior to stop pressing a button.” Edge Hill Professor Derek Heim, a fellow researcher, noted that “Our hope is that by increasing our understanding of how context shapes substance-use behaviors, we will be able to make interventions more sensitive to the different situations in which people consume substances.” More studies are needed, and this study must be replicated in a real world environment for further validation.