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Keywords:

  • Alcohol Dependence;
  • Reaction Time;
  • Research Design;
  • Data Collection

Abstract: Background: To study cognitive interference associated with craving for alcohol, the Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) method was used to measure the relationship between craving and reaction time. A secondary aim was the study of the predictive factors for craving during alcohol detoxification. The EMA enables both repeated measures of craving in a natural setting and the recording of reaction time without the patient being aware of this.

Methods: Craving for alcohol, reaction time, sadness and anxiety were recorded 8 to 12 times a day, over three weeks of detoxification in 14 alcoholics (n= 1767 measures), on an electronic diary issuing random prompts. Mixed models were used for statistical analysis (α= 5%, 1-β= 88%).

Results: Reaction time was significantly increased in univariate analysis when a craving episode occurred but this difference did not persist after multivariate analysis. Craving episodes were more frequent and intense than previously reported. Predictive factors of craving during detoxification were: age, gender, sadness, anxiety and the number of previous detoxifications. Antidepressants, anticraving medications but not benzodiazepines were negatively associated to craving.