eISSN: 1689-3530
ISSN: 0867-4361
Alcoholism and Drug Addiction/Alkoholizm i Narkomania
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vol. 31
Original paper

The identity of alcohol dependent persons

Ewa Wojtynkiewicz

Alcohol Drug Addict 2018; 31 (2): 125-146
Online publish date: 2018/12/04
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Identity is seen as the basis for human mental and psychosocial functioning. The formation of a coherent and stable identity is treated as crucial for a person’s healthy development whereas difficulties in terms of its formation can lead to various forms of disorder. The aim of the research was to verify if alcohol dependent people differ from the non-dependent in terms of identity coherence, stability, accessibility, specificity, separateness and valuation, also taking gender into account. And whether identity in the group of alcohol dependent persons relates to the length of dependence, length of abstinence, number of undertaken therapies, level of alcohol use, gender and age.

Material and methods
The sample consisted of 221 alcohol dependent (including 166 men) and 121 non-dependent persons (including 84 men). In order to examine the features of the identity dimension structure, Pilarska’s Multidimensional Questionnaire of Identity was used. Test AUDIT was used to estimate the level of alcohol use.

The variance analysis proved that the alcohol dependent persons obtain lower scores than the non-dependent in the scope of all identity dimensions including accessibility, specificity, separateness, coherence, stability and valuation. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that predictors such as length of the dependence and of abstinence, number of undertaken therapies, level of alcohol use and gender or age do not explain the changeability connected with separateness and valuating, but relate to accessibility, specificity, coherence and stability of identity only slightly and selectively.

The conducted study revealed that in the case of alcohol dependent persons, it is possible to propose an increased tendency to reveal identity deficits linked to dependency in a selective manner. Taking into account the cross-sectional character of the study, it is not possible to state to what extent alcohol has a destructive effect on the formation of identity and to what degree identity deficits contribute to the intensity of dependency. This is a limitation of the presented study. However, it would seem that the issue of the link between identity deficits and the occurrence or persistency of dependency might be a valid direction of further study.

Deficits in the identity of the alcohol dependent persons appear to be very important for therapeutic practice. In DSM-5, as well as in Kernberg’s pathological personality organisation concept, it is stressed that the assessment of identity is significant when personality disorders are diagnosed. Thus, what should be emphasised is the issue of probable insufficient diagnostics of personality disorder among Polish alcohol dependent patients, which are broadly comorbid with alcohol dependence and at the same time constitute an enormous challenge in the psychotherapy process.


Alcohol dependence, Identity, Coherence of identity, Stability of identity

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