Coping with inner feelings and stress: heavy alcohol use in the context of alexithymia

Behav Med. Fall 1992;18(3):121-6. doi: 10.1080/08964289.1992.9936962.


The authors conducted a population study to assess the relationship between heavy alcohol consumption and alexithymia, defined as difficulty in identifying and expressing feelings. The study sample consisted of 2,297 middle-aged men from eastern Finland. The proportion of men who reported either frequent intoxication or unpleasant aftereffects of heavy drinking increased linearly with alexithymia. Alexithymia and the heavy acute intake of different sorts of alcoholic drinks were also consistently associated. Long-term heavy use, taking into account both the dose and frequency, was also linearly related to the alexithymia measure. In multivariate models to assess whether high alcohol consumption in alexithymic individuals might relate to stress, the authors found nothing to support the stress-dampening hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Arousal / drug effects
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*