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Neuropsychobiology. 2013;67(4):241-8. doi: 10.1159/000350483. Epub 2013 May 14.

Relapse (number of detoxifications) in abstinent male alcohol-dependent patients as related to personality traits and types of tolerance to frustration.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.



Personality traits like depression on the one hand and aggression and impulsivity on the other are assumed to be predisposing factors for different types of alcohol dependence. Both types are associated with sensitivity to frustration, but this may be different for the two types of personality according to whether they are confronted with frustrations caused by withdrawal from positive or infliction of negative events. It has not been shown so far if both types of personality factors and the two different sources of frustration are differently relevant for the propensity of relapse. This was investigated here in a study on 60 abstinent male alcohol-dependent patients.


Correlations between the number of previous detoxifications reflecting liability to relapse and questionnaire scores on personality factors and on reactions to frustration were computed.


Bonferroni-corrected correlations yielded significant relationships between the number of detoxifications and the personality factor of aggression as well as pronounced depressive reactions to frustrating conditions of non-reward caused by humans. Controlling for impulsivity, aggression and depression revealed that depressive reactions to frustration are genuine predictors for probability of relapse independent of underlying personality factors. Persons particularly sensitive to frustrations from human denial of positive reinforcers are liable to relapse which fits the theory of sensitivity to reward in drug-addicted individuals.


Results demonstrate that relapse is clearly more related to aggression than to impulsivity, depression and anxiety and may be facilitated if persons are sensitive to frustrating conditions of non-reward caused by social partners.

Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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