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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Affect and alcohol use: An ecological momentary assessment study of outpatients with borderline personality disorder.

Alcohol use may be viewed as an attempt (albeit maladaptive) to regulate negative emotional states.

We examined associations between both negative and positive affects and alcohol use in outpatient women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD; n = 74), a prototype of emotional dysregulation, as well as a psychiatric control group of women with current depressive disorder (major depressive disorder/dysthymic disorder [MDD\DYS]; n = 50). Participants completed randomly prompted reports of mood and alcohol use up to six times a day over a 28-day period using electronic diaries.

Mean levels of either positive or negative affects did not distinguish between drinkers and nondrinkers in either diagnostic group. However, levels of both negative and positive affects were positively associated with alcohol use at the momentary level in BPD drinkers.

More robust findings were obtained with respect to within-person affective variability, which was related to alcohol use in multiple ways.

BPD drinkers showed higher within-person variability for most negative affects than BPD nondrinkers; MDD\DYS drinkers in general showed less within-person variability than MDD\DYS nondrinkers for negative affects.

Multilevel lagged analyses for BPD drinkers indicated that alcohol use was positively related to variability in all affects, concurrently, but fewer significant effects of affect variability on the next day's drinking or significant effects of alcohol use on the next day's affect variability were observed.

Among MDD\DYS drinkers, we observed more significant associations between affect variability on next day's alcohol use and of alcohol use on next day's affect variability.

We discuss theoretical and methodological issues relevant to these findings as well as implications for future research.

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