[Emotion regulation among psychostimulants drug users at techno parties]

C Lillaz, I Varescon
L'Encéphale 2012, 38 (5): 390-6

AIM: Deficits in the communication and identifying of feelings are usually observed in substance abuse. Research in several countries has reported sensation seeking and alexithymia implication in addiction. According to a cognitive-developmental model of emotional experience proposed, alexithymia is a deficit in the cognitive processing of emotion that can be seen as an impairment in the ability to consciously experience feeling in the context of autonomic activation indicate of emotional arousal. The primary objective of this study was to identify certain personality dimensions linked with emotions' regulation, i.e. Zuckerman's sensation seeking, alexithymia, and emotional awareness in ecstasy and cocaine users at techno parties.

METHODS: Subjects were divided in two groups: 37 male ecstasy or cocaine abusers, and 37 male non-drug users. We hypothesized that ecstasy and cocaine users would exhibit high levels of sensation seeking (high level of sensation seeking,), and emotional dysregulation (high level of alexithymia and depression, low level of emotional awareness). The methodology comprised a questionnaire developed for the study, designed to record sociodemographic data and evaluate psychoactive substance use, the MlINI (mini international psychiatric interview), the Zuckerman 40-item Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS-IV), the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS), and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-13). Subjects were recruited during rave-parties.

RESULTS: The results showed significantly higher sensation seeking scores for ecstasy and cocaine users for the score total and the disinhibition and experience seeking subdimensions. Ecstasy and cocaine abusers exhibited higher TAS-20 and BDI-13 scores and lower levels of emotional awareness than non-drug users. No correlation between the TAS-20 and depression symptomatology emerged. No significant correlations were found between LEAS and TAS-20.

CONCLUSION: These results provide new elements concerning the profile of drug users at techno parties and illustrate the changing practices of ecstasy use. The LEAS and the TAS-20 were not intercorrelated; it seems plausible that they reflect two sides of the emotional states self-report. These results reinforce the suggestion of combining the use of self-reports with non self-report methods.

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