Chiang, Sonnig S. W.; Schütz, Christian G.; Soyka, Michael (2002): Effects of irritability on craving before and after cue exposure in abstinent alcoholic inpatients: Experimental data on subjective response and heart rate. In: Neuropsychobiology, Nr. 3: S. 150-160




Objective: Irritability is often linked with problem drinking. The aim of this study is to examine the possible influence of irritability on craving induced by a cue-exposure paradigm. Methods: 30 male abstinent alcoholic inpatients of the Psychiatric Hospital of Munich University, Germany gave answers to a series of personality questionnaires. Results of this study concerning the impact of aggressivity on craving for alcohol has recently been published. In this study, the subjects were subdivided into a low- and a high-irritable group based on their scores on the irritability subscale of the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory and were exposed to alcohol cues. Craving was measured by means of the Alcohol Craving Questionnaire (ACQ) and Visual Analogue Scales (VAS). The heart rate was also assessed throughout the whole process. ANCOVA for repeated measurement was employed to evaluate the data - irritability disposition as the between-subject factor and the experimental manipulation (absence vs. presence of alcohol cues) as the within-subject factor. Results: Major findings are: (1) main effects of irritability on `emotionality', `purposefulness', and `expectancy' of the ACQ as well as on `craving for alcohol' of the VAS were significant; (2) cue exposure also exerted a significant main effect on I craving for alcohol' of the VAS and on the heart rate after the presentation of alcohol cues; (3) on `compulsivity' of the ACQ and `intention to alcohol intake' of the VAS; there was a significant interaction between irritability and cue exposure. The high-irritable alcoholics, compared with their statements in the baseline, tended to report a higher control over alcohol intake and a lower intention to alcohol use after cue exposure. However, after confrontation with alcohol stimuli, their low-irritable counterparts reported a much lower control and a slightly higher intention than they did in the baseline. Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that induced craving in hospitalized alcohol addicts probably varies with the magnitude of their irritability; it might make patients more aware of their vulnerability to alcohol, help them develop more differential coping strategies and improve medical therapy against alcohol craving. Copyright (C) 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel.