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Date of Publication: 
2010/07

Aims: Present research suggests that stress and anxiety are playing an important role in origin and perpetuation of substance use disorders (SUD). This study examined if patients with SUD differed from healthy controls in their anxiety, their psychological and physiological stress-task-related- and general stress-coping. Methods: 41 patients with SUD diagnosed by ICD- 10 are compared with 41 healthy students as controls. Physiological parameters (SCR, SCL, puls rate and temperature) are used to measure the activation of the sympathetic nervous system during a baseline-, a stress- and a relaxation-condition. A computer- task should produce stress. Coping-strategies, behavioral inhibition and activation systems (BIS/BAS) and anxiety are investigated as well. Results: Physiological data showed that the study-design was able to yield stress. Though, patients with SUD did not differ from healthy controls, neither in their physiological nor in their psychological stress-coping. However, patients with SUD described themselves as more anxious and had a stronger BAS than healthy controls. There were not obtained any differences between the groups in BIS.Conclusion: In contrast to former findings, the present results suggest neither a maladaptive stress-coping in patients with SUD nor a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system, no differences in psychological or physiological stress-coping between patients with SUD and healthy controls were obtained. Instead of this, findings indicate that patients suffering on SUD were more anxious and had a stronger BAS than healthy students. More notice on these personality factors may improve treatment outcomes for patients suffering on SUDs.

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