Alexithymia in alcohol dependent patients is partially mediated by alcohol expectancy

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Journal Article

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Thorberg, F.A., Young, R.M., Sullivan, K.A., Lyvers, M., Hurst, C.P., Connor, J.P. & Feeney, G.F.X. (2011). Alexithymia in alcohol dependent patients is partially mediated by alcohol expectancy. Drug and alcohol dependence, 116(1-3), 238-241. Online version accepted Nov 2010.

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2010 HERDC submission. FoR Code: 111700

© Copyright Elsevier Ireland Ltd., 2010


Background: Up to fifty percent of alcohol dependent individuals have alexithymia, a personality trait characterised by difficulties identifying and describing feelings, a lack of imagination and an externalised cognitive style. Although studies have examined alexithymia in relation to alcohol dependence, no research exists on mechanisms underlying this relationship. The present study examined the mediational effect of alcohol expectancies on alexithymia and alcohol dependence.

Methods: 230 outpatients completed the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), the Drinking Expectancy Questionnaire (DEQ) and the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT).

Results: Regression analysis showed that alexithymia and alcohol dependence was, in two of three cases, partially mediated through alcohol expectancy.

Conclusions: Alcohol expectancies of assertion and affective change show promise as mediators of alcohol dependence in individuals with alexithymia.

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