Antisocial Symptoms Decrease to Normal Levels in Long-Term Abstinence

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Abstract

Background

We have previously shown highly elevated antisocial symptoms and measures of social deviance proneness and antisocial disposition in long-term abstinent alcohol dependence versus non-substance-abusing controls (NSAC). Current antisocial symptoms were reduced to subdiagnostic levels in long-term abstinence; however, the number of current symptoms was not measured beyond its being subdiagnostic.

Methods

Here we measured social deviance proneness, antisocial disposition, and both lifetime and current antisocial symptoms in short-term and long-term abstinent substance-dependent and NSAC samples.

Results

Lifetime antisocial symptoms (and diagnoses) and social deviance proneness and antisocial disposition were highly elevated in both short- and long-term abstinence, replicating earlier findings. Current antisocial symptoms were dramatically reduced in long-term versus short-term abstinent samples, close to levels in controls. In contrast, social deviance proneness and antisocial disposition remain highly elevated in long-term abstinence.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that antisocial behavior is reduced in extended abstinence, despite continued elevated social deviance proneness an antisocial disposition. This suggests a top-down model in extended abstinence, whereby executive control inhibits deviance-prone tendencies.

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