It’s not news that heavy drinking can lead to poor communication and relationships problems. This is because people with alcohol use disorder have been found to struggle with non-verbal communication, including the ability to express emotions through facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. Now a new study of former drinkers, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, found that these effects might continue long after the person quits drinking.

Researchers studied the participants in two ways: Their ability to express emotion through their voice and how well listeners were able to recognized their intended emotions. Those with a history of alcohol use disorder found it difficult to express anger, disgust, fear and happiness and listeners described their voices as flat or inexpressive. What’s more, the participants were less likely to detect these emotions in the voices of others.

Further studies are needed to determine the underlying causes, or whether these difficulties faced by alcoholics are due to damage to their vocal chords or damage to a part of the brain.

“Understanding the problems former alcoholics have with this could lead to strategies being developed which would help them with communication,” professor Silke Paulmann from the University of Essex, who conducted the study with her MSc student Chelsea Harmsworth, said in a statement. “For example, it may be necessary to create social skills training programs that help mitigate conflicts between different parties, before they blow out of proportion.”

Enhancing Emotional Communication in Therapy
At Guardian IOP, individual and group therapy is a major part of our curriculum. In a group setting, the therapist leading the sessions can see how you respond and behave in social settings and then work with you individually to improve your emotional communication skills. To learn more about our addiction treatment programs, call today: (888) 693-1894.


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Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.