Aims: The aim of the present study is to characterize the relevance of withdrawal symptoms during the first 12 months of abstinence and their relation to anhedonia and craving. Methods: 102 detoxified subjects meeting clinical criteria for Alcohol Dependence in Remission were recruited at various time since the detoxification and subdivided into four groups according to the length of abstinence (group 1: 15–30 days; group 2: 30–90 days; group 3: 90–180 days; group 4: 180–360). Withdrawal symptomatology was assessed through the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol (CIWA-Ar). The Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for craving, the Snaith–Hamilton Pleasure Scale (SHAPS) and the Subscale for Anhedonia in the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANSanh) where the other instruments employed. Results: Both anhedonia and withdrawal symptoms were identified in all the groups considered. SHAPS score and VAS for craving showed a significant difference between group 1 and groups 2, 3, and 4. As to CIWA-Ar items, apart from “orientation/clouding of sensorium” that was higher in groups 3 and 4 with respect to both groups 1 and 2, withdrawal symptoms were not significantly different between the periods considered. SHAPS and SANSanh were positively correlated to CIWA-Ar total score, “nausea and vomiting,” and “headache/fullness in head.” Discussion: The results of this study suggest the relevance of protracted withdrawal well beyond the limited period following the abrupt cessation of alcohol intake. The clinical dimension of anhedonia cannot be separated from the other behavioral symptoms of withdrawal and should be considered as part of the same process.
- protracted withdrawal