Another common area I feel addiction has with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is intolerance of uncertainty (IU).
In fact it is also associated with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)- there is actually a high co-morbidity (at least around 40% comorbidity) with addiction and PTSD and it is one so-called co-morbidity that does not naturally dissipate like some others months into recovery such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Depression (the 14% rates of depression and GAD in recovery people are the same as for a normal population) but remains and often makes the symptomatic manifestations of addiction more severe, especially the tendency to engage in “fight or flight” reactions” to uncertainty and ambiguity.
I will blog more on this co-morbidity in later blogs.
The study we cite today in fact looks at IU in addicts who have suffered trauma (1).
Intolerance of uncertainty is a term that refers to a certain way in which some people perceive and respond to situations that are uncertain, and it has been found to be associated with the experience of PTSD symptoms.
Individuals who respond to uncertain or unpredictable situations in this way are considered to have an intolerance of uncertainty. People who are intolerant of uncertainty may begin to experience constant worry about what could happen in the future.
One study (1) demonstrated that negative emotion regulation strategy and intolerance of uncertainty can significantly explain the craving beliefs in addicts (especially those who have suffered a traumatic experience).
This result is consistent with that of Asadi Majareh, Abedini, Porsharifi and Nilkokar (2013) and Nasiri Shushi (2011).
Nasiri Shushi (2011) revealed that there is a significant difference among substance abuse and intolerance of ambiguity and tolerance of uncertainty in two groups of drug abusers.
The other results of this study showed that addicts have less tolerance of ambiguity and tolerance of uncertainty. In the implications of these results it should be expressed that tolerance of uncertainty is associated with cognitive features and addicts when they are faced with difficult situations act in very low levels of performance in terms of decision-making.
Studies carried out to investigate the characteristics of drug abusers suggest that they use substances to regulate a wide range of cognitive events. Undoubtedly unpleasant emotional states, particularly anxiety, depression and stress in addicts are associated with the cognitive consequences.”
The authors suggest that “Drug abusers are not able to tolerate the unpleasant situations and uncertainty in the stressful conditions and their sensitivity leads to mental and emotional problems, therefore, they more turn to substances to regulate their own cognitive experiences (Spada, Nikčević, Moneta, Wells, 2007).
The results of a study showed that individuals with lower tolerance to ambiguity find the ambiguous situations threatening… Many of them may find the substance use in the face of difficulties the only solution and therefore are not able to think or consider other solutions.”
“….While, those with high tolerance to ambiguity in face of unpleasant situation and uncertainty try to find a good solution to get rid of this condition as soon as possible…those with a low tolerance to ambiguity and uncertainty cannot find an appropriate solution…and consequently turn to undetected compromise strategies such as the use of the substance (Ahmadi-Tahoorsoltani and Najafy, 2012).”
I can relate to this study. As I still suffer from intolerance of uncertainty (IU) in recovery, and some years into recovery, it is safe to assume that I suffered form IU in addictive addiction also?
Fizollahi, S., Abolghasemi, A., & Babazadeh, A. THE ROLE OF EMOTION REGULATION, DISSOCIATIVE EXPERIENCES AND INTOLERANCE OF UNCERTAINTY IN THE PREDICTION OF CRAVING BELIEFS IN DRUG ABUSERS WITH TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE.