Effect of omega-3 fatty-acids on alcohol attentional bias, craving and consumption: a randomised controlled trial

  • O. Zerhouni
  • J. Jacquet
  • M. Chanove
  • R. Shankland
  • L. Bègue


Background: Alcohol consumption and craving is closely related to heightened speed processing for alcohol-related stimuli, and greater difficulties in drawing attention away from alcohol-related stimuli (i.e. attentional bias). Inhibiting attentional bias depends on neural regions related to executive functioning, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, while craving due to alcohol-related cues is related the orbito-frontal cortex. In parallel, omega-3 supplementation is known for its beneficial effects on executive functioning. No study has evaluated the effect of omega-3 supplementation on alcohol-related cognitions. Our aim was to test the efficiency of Omega-3 supplementation for reducing attentional bias and alcohol craving. Methods: 218 participants followed a 6-week ambulatory treatment in which they were supplemented with a daily intake of omega-3. Critical measures of craving (Alcohol Craving Experience Questionnaire), self-reported alcohol consumption and a dot-probe task assessing attentional bias toward alcohol related stimuli were completed at screening (T1) and a second time at the end of the protocol (T2). Findings: Surprisingly, participants supplemented with omega-3 had a significantly stronger attentional bias toward alcohol stimuli at T2 compared to T1, but did not show a significant reduction in alcohol consumption. However, all participants showed reduced craving at T2, independently from the treatment they received. Discussion: Overall, we did not observe a consistent effect of omega-3 supplementation on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related cognitions. Further research is needed to understand the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on attentional bias toward alcohol, craving and alcohol consumption within a clinical sample.
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