Rationale: Prior research has shown that cocaine dependence is associated with dysfunction of brain systems involved in emotions and motivational states.
Objectives: To examine whether difficulties in emotion regulation are associated with early cocaine abstinence using the recently validated Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS).
Method: Recently abstinent treatment-seeking cocaine patients (n=60) completed the DERS during their first week of inpatient treatment and at discharge (3-4 weeks later), and scores were compared with community controls (n=50).
Results: Compared with controls, cocaine-dependent individuals reported difficulties relating to understanding emotions, managing emotions and impulse control in the first week of abstinence. With continued abstinence, cocaine-dependent individuals showed continued difficulties only in impulse control.
Conclusion: Cocaine-dependent individuals report emotion regulation difficulties, particularly during early abstinence. Additionally, protracted distress-related impulse control problems suggest potential relapse vulnerability.