Heart rate variability predicts alcohol craving in alcohol dependent outpatients: Further evidence for HRV as a psychophysiological marker of self-regulation


Background: Past research has highlighted an important role of the autonomic nervous system in alcohol dependence and capacity for self-regulation. While previous studies have examined alcohol dependent inpatients, it remains unclear whether resting-state HRV, a potential psychophysiological marker of ones capacity for self-regulation, is related to craving in patients who currently consume alcohol. Thus, the aim of the present study was to determine whether HRV predicts alcohol craving in dependent individuals in the community. Methods: Resting-state HRV and alcohol craving, as indexed by the obsessive compulsive drinking scale, were assessed in 26 alcohol dependent outpatients. Results: Results supported hypotheses indicating that HRV accounts for an additional 12.1% of the variance in craving after controlling for age, anxiety and levels of alcohol consumption. Here we show for the first time that resting-state HRV predicts craving in alcohol dependent outpatients. Conclusion: Results provide important new evidence for a role of the autonomic nervous system in the maintenance of dependence disorders. (copyright) 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Drug and Alcohol Dependence