Cue-Exposure and Psycho-Physiological Monitoring for Alcohol Craving


Michael Marschollek

Project partners

Hannover Medical School, Centrum of mental health, Clinic of Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy


Alcohol dependency is a common disorder that is connected with a high risk of relapse even after successful alcohol withdrawal therapy. The main cause of alcohol relapse is the so-called "alcohol craving", that is the craving to drink alcohol. Additionally, the quality of life of alcohol-dependent patients is also reduced by affective and cognitive concomitants. This is due to the symptoms of alcohol dependence as well as the numerous neurological and internal complications.

After an alcohol relapse changes of vegetative parameters can be recorded. Clinically are on evidence, an increase or decrease in blood pressure. Furthermore there are often tremor, hyperhidrosis, restlessness, and tachycardia. The so far unanswered question is if some of the parameters above can show measurable changes within the "alcohol craving“ and before an impending alcohol relapse.

Alcohol related cues are risk factors for people addicted to alcohol to get a relapse. Alcohol stimuli can trigger an increased desire for alcohol craving and changes in the psychophysiological range. These reactions increase the chance to consume alcohol. Cue Exposure is the confrontation with these cues. In this study, the study participants are confronted with alcohol stimuli in form of a video sequence.

Due to the not yet available data on this issue, the planned study is a hypothesis-study in which a pure data acquisition is planned (basis phenotyping). An intervention is not provided. There is an exploratory data analysis (data mining) for detecting potential relationships between the data of basis phenotyping and the continuous acquisition.

The objective for this study is therefor to investigate if and to what extent psychophysiological parameters within alcohol cravings are changed and which of these parameters can give a decisive indication of an impending alcohol relapse.

For later follow up studies, it may be useful to integrate an intervention to the study design.


since 2011