Difficulties in emotion regulation and impulse control during cocaine abstinence

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007 Jul 10;89(2-3):298-301. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2006.12.026. Epub 2007 Feb 5.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Adult
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Emotions / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / chemically induced*
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*


  • Cocaine