The relationship between impulsivity and craving in alcohol dependent patients

L. Joos, A.E. Goudriaan, L. Schmaal, N.A.J. De Witte, W. van den Brink, B.G.C. Sabbe, G. Dom

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Impulsivity and craving are both associated with higher relapse rates and a worse prognosis in patients with a substance use disorder, but the relationship between these two phenomena has been largely ignored in the field of alcohol use disorders. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between different dimensions of impulsivity and different forms of self-reported craving. Additionally, the influence of the severity of alcohol dependence on impulsivity, craving, and on their relationship was exploed. Impulsivity and craving levels were investigated in 87 abstinent alcohol-dependent (AD) patients using a broad range of self-report questionnaires and behavioral impulsivity measures. Alcohol use was measured by means of the timeline followback method. Higher scores of emotional craving (Alcohol Urge Questionnaire-AUQ) were significantly related to higher self-reported impulsivity (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, version 11) and to higher cognitive impulsivity (information sampling task). Additionally, exploratory analyses suggest that these relationships are more pronounced in severe AD patients compared to less severe AD patients. No significant relationships were found between emotional craving (AUQ) and motor impulsivity (stop signal task) or delay discounting and between obsessive-compulsive craving (Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale) and measures of impulsivity. Emotional craving is related to self-reported impulsivity and to cognitive impulsivity. These relationships seem to be more pronounced in AD patients with severe alcohol dependence. Further research is needed to explore the effect of this relationship on treatment outcome and relapse
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-283
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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