Impaired Specificity of Future Thinking in Alcohol Use Disorders

Mohamad El Haj*, Ahmed A. Moustafa, Aïssata Perle, Philippe Tison, Olivier Cottencin, Jean Louis Nandrino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: While there has been a body of work that has investigated past thinking in individuals with alcohol use disorders (AUD), little is known about future thinking in these individuals. 

Methods: We invited participants with AUD and control participants to construct past and future events. We have also investigated the relationship between constructing past and future events and depression. 

Results: By analyzing the specificity (i.e., the ability in constructing specific events situated in time and space) of these events, results demonstrated lower specificity of past and future thinking in AUD participants compared to control participants. No significant differences were observed between the specificity of past and future thinking in AUD or in control participants. Further, significant negative correlations were observed between depression and past/future thinking in AUD participants but not in controls. 

Conclusions: Difficulties in constructing specific future scenarios, as observed in AUD participants compared with controls, are presumably related to ruminative thinking and emotional avoidance aspects of depression, which should be investigated in future studies. More specifically, individuals with AUD may tend to construct general future scenarios to dwell on negative past events and/or to avoid coping with hopelessness and processing of upsetting or distressful future scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-951
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


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