Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder: Emotion Regulation and Brain Function

Primary Objective

1. Evaluate whether adults with AUD have impaired emotion regulation skills and altered neural response during emotion regulation. 2. Determine the immediate effects of an ecologically-valid residential treatment on behavioral and neural substrates of emotion regulation in AUD patients. 3. Examine whether emotion regulation ability and neural response during emotion regulation can predict relapse following treatment.

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This study plans to learn more about the brain's role alcohol use problems and recovery. Prominent theories about alcohol use disorder suggest that it is a disorder of the brain. However, it remains unclear what parts of the brain work differently in alcohol use disorder. This study intends to add to the understanding of how brain function differs in individuals with alcohol use disorder relative to individuals without alcohol use disorder. We also plan to increase understanding of how treatment for alcohol use disorder changes brain function.




i. Inclusion criteria for all participants: A) Between 21 and 65 years of age, and B) can understand the nature of study and can sign an informed consent document. ii. Inclusion criteria for AUD group: A) recently admitted to the Center for Dependency, Addiction, and Rehabilitation (CeDAR). iii. Inclusion criteria for healthy comparison group: We will recruit adults without a history of alcohol use disorder who resemble patients at CeDAR during the prior year in terms of age, sex, and socioeconomic status distributions.

iv. Exclusion criteria for all participants: A) positive result on urine drug screen or breathalyzer at the start of any study visit, B) inability to complete MRI (e.g. presence of ferromagnetic objects in body), C) current use of medications that alter the hemodynamic response, such as insulin, D) history of trauma resulting in loss of consciousness longer than 15 minutes, E) currently experiencing withdrawal from alcohol as indicated by a CIWA-Ar score greater than 8 (Sullivan, Sykora et al. 1989), F) diagnosis of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, G) past 48-hour use of drugs to treat alcohol withdrawal (e.g. benzodiazepines), H) Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 score >3 (e.g. severe and incapacitating), and I) for females, pregnancy. v. Exclusion criteria for healthy group: A) History of a substance use disorder (lifetime or current).

Type of Study

Basic Science




Brain Imaging Center (BIC)
University of Colorado Hospital

Principal Investigator
Photograph of Joshua Gowin,  PhD

Joshua Gowin, PhD

Study ID

Protocol Number: 20-3000

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