Personality traits and coping compensate for disadvantageous decision-making in long-term alcohol abstinence

Bálint Andó, Anita Must, Eszter Kurgyis, Andrea Szkaliczki, Gergely Drótos, Sándor Rózsa, Petronella Szikszay, Szatmár Horváth, Zoltán Janka, Péter Z. álmos

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Aims: High relapse rate and extreme difficulty to maintain abstinence are core characteristics of alcohol dependence (AD). Previous studies have demonstrated a persistent decision-making (DM) deficit in AD. We aimed to reveal specific personality features and stress-coping mechanisms presumed to compensate for ineffective DM skills. Methods: Eighty-eight unmedicated patients with AD were enrolled. Intact general cognitive status was assured by IQ above 90. Forty-three patients had an average abstinence period of 12 weeks and were currently in an inpatient treatment program (short-term abstinence group, STA) and 45 patients were abstinent for at least 3 years (long-term abstinence group, LTA). The two groups were assessed using an integrative approach combining domains of DM, temperament and character dimensions and stress-coping measures. Results: Both groups performed at chance level with no linear improvement tendency on the gambling task assessing DM adequacy. The LTA group scored significantly higher on scales of self-directedness and cooperativeness. In contrast, levels of harm avoidance, emotion-oriented coping and perceived stress were significantly higher in the STA group. Conclusion: Our findings provide new evidence for a persistent DM deficit with no learning effect in AD. Despite the deficit, alcohol-dependent patients can achieve LTA. STA patients perceive higher levels of stress and use non-adaptive coping strategies. We propose that the more adaptive personality profile of LTA patients contributes to the compensation of the trait-like DM deficit in alcoholism. These compensatory features represent promising new targets for preventive measures and therapeutic interventions in AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberagr144
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Andó, B., Must, A., Kurgyis, E., Szkaliczki, A., Drótos, G., Rózsa, S., Szikszay, P., Horváth, S., Janka, Z., & álmos, P. Z. (2012). Personality traits and coping compensate for disadvantageous decision-making in long-term alcohol abstinence. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 47(1), 18-24. [agr144].