Alexithymia, emotional dysregulation, and recovery from alcoholism: therapeutic response to assessment of mood

Qual Health Res. 2015 Jun;25(6):794-805. doi: 10.1177/1049732315577608. Epub 2015 Mar 25.


This study is a secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial that tested the effects of a gratitude intervention on well-being in a sample of individuals in outpatient treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD). Follow-up qualitative interviews unexpectedly revealed that participants found the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) to be helpful to their recovery in the ways that it asked them to identify and rate their emotions. Participant statements were purposively sampled and analyzed using grounded theory methods to produce a conceptual framework illustrating the process of mood identification and its sequelae. Evidence of existing alexithymia and emotional dysregulation, dominance of negative mood, and increasing ability to identify, accept, and regulate mood as part of recovery was found. Findings suggest that emotion regulation is a compelling topic for those in recovery from AUD, and may deserve a more prominent role in treatment.

Keywords: addiction / substance use; alcohol / alcoholism; emotions / emotion work; grounded theory; qualitative; recovery.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Awareness
  • Female
  • Grounded Theory
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Temperance / psychology