Although affective and substance use disorders frequently co-occur, the role of affective dysregulation in addiction is often overlooked. This paper reviews the role of affective dysregulation in the initiation and maintenance of substance use disorders (SUDs), presenting evidence for a relationship between SUD and three biologically-based dimensions of affective temperament and behaviour: negative affect (NA), positive affect (PA), and effortful control (EC). High NA, low EC, and both high and low PA were each found to play a role in conferring risk and maintaining substance use behaviours, although the strength of their influence differed depending on stage of illness (i.e., early onset use through to addiction). Given these findings, we argue that future research should explicitly consider how changes within affective systems may underlie the development of SUDs. A better understanding of the role of affective dysregulation in addiction will aid in clarifying how risk is conferred, as well as how addictive behaviours are maintained, thereby informing the development of preventative strategies and novel treatments. Future studies should continue to examine the role of high NA in SUDs, and further examine the respective roles of high PA, low PA, and low EC, as well as identifying the affective characteristics that predispose high-risk individuals to later substance use problems.
Clinical Psychology Review – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 2010
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