Prolonged Abstinence and Changes in Alcoholic Personality: A NEO PI-R Study


Many studies have examined the risk factors for relapse in alcohol-dependent patients within the first year of treatment, and have generally focused on two personality dimensions: emotional instability and difficulty in establishing relationships. In this study, we examine if these weaknesses remain in prolonged alcohol abstinence. To do so, we administer the NEO PI-R to two groups of subjects. Group 1, Inactive Drinkers (ID), consists of 51 patients with at least two years of abstinence (average length of abstinence for this group is 6.2 years); Group 2, Recently Detoxified Drinkers (RDD), comprises 93 patients who have recently ceased consuming alcohol. Based on NEO PI-R scores, our results evidence that inactive drinkers experience significant reduction in emotional instability and improvement in relationships to others. We further observe that, with long-term abstinence, these personality dimensions normalize, ceasing to be risk factors for relapse. Additionally, we find that this long-term amelioration of traits altered by alcohol amounts to an improved behavioral adaptation to life events rather than an actual change in personality.

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Boulze, I. , Launay, M. & Nalpas, B. (2014). Prolonged Abstinence and Changes in Alcoholic Personality: A NEO PI-R Study. Psychology, 5, 312-319. doi: 10.4236/psych.2014.54041.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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