Negative and Positive Life Events and Their Relation to Substance and Behavioral Addictions
Research has shown that negative life events (LEs) may be connected to the development and maintenance of addictions. However, few studies have examined the potential relationship between positive events and addictive disorders, and even fewer studies evaluated the subjective perception of LEs that may underlie these relationships. Importantly, addictive disorders include both substance-related and behavioral addictions, but the relative relationship of each type of addiction with LEs remains unclear.
The present study compared 212 participants suffering from an addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex) and 79 controls on self-report measures of negative and positive LEs.
Compared with controls, individuals with an addiction reported experiencing a larger number of both negative and positive LEs and also tended to be more influenced by negative LEs. Findings also demonstrated differential patterns across addiction types, such that participants with compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) reported experiencing less negative events than those with drug use disorders (DUD) and were less influenced by these events than participants with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Finally, analyses within each group further revealed differences in the way each group experienced negative compared to positive events. Controls and participants with CSB reported experiencing a similar number of positive and negative events, whereas participants with DUD, AUD, and gambling disorder reported more negative events in their lives.
These findings suggest a unique profile among different types of addictions, which should be taken into account when planning personalized prevention and intervention approaches.