Self-reports of interoceptive responses during stress and drug cue-related experiences in cocaine- and alcohol-dependent individuals

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010 Jun;18(3):229-37. doi: 10.1037/a0019451.


Cocaine dependence is associated with neuroadaptations in stress and reward pathways that could alter stress and drug-related experiences and associated interoceptive sensations and result in enhanced craving states. Subjective interoceptive emotional and physiological responses experienced in stressful and drug cue situations were examined in abstinent cocaine-dependent individuals. Fifty-six treatment engaged cocaine-dependent patients with comorbid alcohol abuse or dependence were interviewed to identify personal stressful, drug cue, and neutral situations using a scene construction questionnaire (SCQ) that includes an emotional and physiological response checklist. Using this checklist, subjects identified emotional and bodily sensations that they recently experienced in the stress- and drug-related scenarios. Kappa coefficients indicated fair to moderate but significant degree of concordance in heart (p < .01), perspiration (p < .05), stomach (p < .05), and blood flow (p < .01) sensations for both stress and drug cue scenarios, while the McNemar change test indicated differential endorsement of interoceptive responses in stress and drug cue situations for breathing (p < .05), stomach (p < .05), tension (p < .05), and chest (p < .05) sensations, and for sad (p < .01), anger (p < .01), and excitement (p < .01) responses. Increased heartbeat and tension, tears, and anger urges were most commonly endorsed in the stress scenarios (between 50% and 79%), whereas butterflies in stomach, increased heartbeat and tension, jittery, restless, and warm excitement (53%-73%) were the most frequently endorsed sensations in the drug cue-related experiences. These self-reported sensations comprise both general arousal and specific interoceptive responses pertaining to stress or drug cue-related experiences in cocaine dependence, with potential value in guiding treatments targeting craving reduction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Checklist
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult