Skip to main content

Effects of Alcohol on Response Time in Male College Athletes

1 August 2006


Objective and Rationale: A literature review was used to evaluate the effects of alcohol, and various other stimulants and depressants on response time. A future study will be performed to evaluate the effects of alcohol on response time in male college athletes with the hypothesis being response time is decreased twelve to twenty-four hours after consumption of alcohol.

Data Sources: Ovid, EMBASE, EbscoHost CINAHL, COCHRANE, SPORTS Discuss, PubMed, and Medline were used as search engines producing 1600 articles. The keywords used the search process were: reaction time, alcohol, intoxication, college, stimulants, depressants, diphenhydramine, sleep deprivation, and caffeine.

Study Selection: Selection criteria were limited to studies after 2000, English language, and a human population. Limiting factors reduced the number of pertinent and available articles available to thirty-eight.

Data Extraction: Each journal article was reviewed by the author for validity and relativity to study criteria and summarized.

Data Synthesis: Alcohol produced depressive effects by decreasing both response accuracy and reaction time. The components were further reduced with the addition of a dual task or the addition of inhibitory response. These effects were amplified during the rising blood alcohol concentrations versus the peak alcohol concentration. Pre-tension muscle strength had a positive effect on reaction time. With increased pre muscle tension reaction time 'increased to a certain point at which reaction time decreased. Sleep deprivation produced a negative effect on reaction time, but was returned to normal during intermittent episodes of stimulatory activity such as exercise. Desloratadine and fexafenadine were shown to have positive effects on reaction time and cognition. While diphenhydramine, certizine, rupatadine, and hydroxazine were shown to have negative effects on reaction time. Caffeine produced positive effects on reaction time, but was only seen in the acute consumption of caffeine.

Conclusion: There is limited research on the effects of alcohol and the lingering effects twelve to twenty-four hours post consumption. The acute consumption of alcohol reveals decreased cognition and reaction time especially during the rising in blood alcohol concentration. The effects of sleep deprivation, marijuana, antihistamines, and caffeine were as expected with respect to increased or decreased reaction time. Research needs to be addressed on the subject of alcohol's effects twelve to twenty-four hours post-consumption.


Files are restricted to Pacific University. Sign in to view.