Trauma- and stress-induced craving for alcohol in individuals without PTSD

Elizabeth Ralevski, Steven Southwick, Ismene Petrakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Aims: The main objective of the study was to compare the differences in craving following trauma and stress scripts in individuals with alcohol dependence (AD) who have experienced trauma but did not meet criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Methods: Twenty-eight men and women who participated in a treatment trial were included in this study before starting treatment. All had to meet criteria for AD and had experienced trauma at some point of their lives but were never diagnosed with PTSD. All participants had one laboratory session and were exposed to stress, trauma and neutral scripts randomly assigned. Main measures of craving, anxiety and mood were administered before, during and after each script. Results: Stress and trauma scripts induced significantly more craving and anxiety than the neutral scripts. Interestingly, stress scripts produced stronger craving and anxiety than the trauma scripts but only with some measures. Stress and trauma scripts produced significantly more fear, anger and sadness and significantly lower ratings of joy and relaxation than the neutral script. Again, there were no differences between stress and trauma scripts for any of the emotional subscales. Conclusions: Trauma scripts did not result in stronger craving than stress scripts. These findings suggest that trauma in the absence of PTSD diagnosis does not lead to stronger craving for alcohol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


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