The association between impulsivity, emotion regulation, and

Andrzej Jakubczyk, Elisa M. Trucco, Maciej Kopera, Paweł Kobyliński, Hubert Suszek, Sylwia Fudalej, Kirk J. Brower, Marcin Wojnar

Non-planning impulsivity; Attentional impulsivity; Motor impulsivity; Emotion regulation; Alcohol use disorder
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 91 (2018) 49–56

Emotion dysregulation and impulsivity are important factors influencing the development and course of alcohol dependence. However, few empirical studies investigate the association between different aspects of impulsivity (cognitive, attentional, behavioral), emotion regulation, and alcohol use disorder symptoms in the same model. The goal of this study was to assess the association between emotion regulation and different facets of impulsivity among patients with an alcohol use disorder and healthy controls. The sample was comprised of 273 individuals: 180 participants with an alcohol use disorder undergoing inpatient alcohol treatment and 93 healthy controls. Emotion regulation was assessed using the Schutte Self-Report Emotional Intelligence Test subscale. Impulsivity was assessed with Barratt’s Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11). Statistical models tested both the BIS-11 total score, as well as three secondary factors (non-planning, attentional, and motor impulsivity). Findings indicate that individuals with alcohol use disorder symptoms were characterized by poor emotion regulation and high levels of impulsivity in all analyzed domains. Moreover, path analytic models indicated that after accounting for demographic factors (i.e., biological sex, age, education) there was evidence for a significant indirect effect of alcohol use disorder symptomatology on non-planning and attentional impulsivity via emotion regulation. There was no association between emotion regulation and motor impulsivity. These findings indicate the importance of targeting emotion regulation skills as well as behavioral control when treating patients with alcohol use disorder.