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Psychopathological and Behavioral Correlates of Dopaminergic Sensitivity in Alcohol-Dependent Patients

Andreas Heinz, MD; Peter Dufeu, Dipl Psych; Silke Kuhn, Dipl Psych; Michael Dettling, MD; Klaus Gräf, MD; Irene Kürten, MTA; Hans Rommelspacher, MD; Lutz G. Schmidt, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1996;53(12):1123-1128. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1996.01830120061011.
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Objectives:  To explore 2 facets of dopamine receptor sensitivity in alcoholics: (1) whether reduced sensitivity of central dopamine receptors is correlated with anxiety, depression, or novelty seeking and (2) whether this reduction is associated with poor treatment outcome.

Method:  Sixty-four alcohol-dependent patients were assessed according to their clinical outcome, sensitivity of central dopamine receptors (apomorphine-induced growth hormone secretion), mood states, and personality traits before and after detoxification.

Results:  Patients with poor treatment outcome displayed a blunted growth hormone response before, but not after, detoxification. Growth hormone response was not significantly correlated with novelty seeking. Relapsing patients tended to be less depressed than patients who remained abstinent during observation.

Conclusion:  This study did not support the hypothesis that reduced sensitivity of dopamine receptors is associated with anxiety, depressed mood, or high novelty seeking in alcoholism.

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