A family history of alcoholism relates to alexithymia in substance use disorder patients
until further notice
Number of pages
SourceComprehensive Psychiatry, 54, 7, (2013), pp. 911-917
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
Objectives: Previous research identified alexithymia as a potential risk factor for substance use disorders (SUD). More insight into the relation between alexithymia and SUD is needed in order to treat SUD effectively. Therefore, we investigated whether a familial vulnerability to alcoholism relates to the presence and severity of alexithymia in SUD patients. Method: Hospitalized, abstinent SUD-patients (n = 187), were assessed with the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and Addiction Severity Index (EuropASI). A maternal, paternal, and total continuous measure of the Family History of Alcohol (FHA) was developed. Kruskal-Wallis tests and Spearman correlations were used to relate the composite scores of FHA to alexithymia as a categorical and continuous measure. Multivariate regression models were performed to control for the effects of confounders on the relation between FHA and alexithymia. Results: Compared to moderate (33%) and low (17%) alexithymic SUD-patients, high alexithymic (50%) patients were more likely to have fathers with alcohol problems (P = 0.004). Such a difference was not found for mothers with alcohol problems. The composite FHA-score was significantly associated with alexithymia (Rs = .19, P = 0.01). However, only a paternal FHA, independent from disturbed family functioning, related to the degree of alexithymia (beta = .13, P = 0.06), especially to the Difficulty Identifying Feelings as measured by the TAS-20 (beta = .16, P = 0.02). Conclusions: The relation between a paternal FHA and a higher degree of alexithymia in SUD-patients suggests that alexithymia could mediate the familiality of alcoholism or SUD in the paternal line.
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