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J Stud Alcohol. 1995 Nov;56(6):597-610.

Short-term treatment careers and outcomes of previously untreated alcoholics.

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  • 1Center for Health Care Evaluation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto, California, USA.



To describe treatment selection and outcomes over a 3-year follow-up period for 439 individuals who had drinking problems and had not yet received formal treatment at baseline.


By the 3-year follow-up, individuals had self-selected into one of four groups: no-treatment (n = 70), completed treatment (i.e., help was received only in Year 1 of follow-up: n = 109), additional treatment (i.e., help was received in Year 1, with more help in Years 2 and 3; n = 233), and delayed treatment (i.e., no help was received until Years 2 and 3 of follow-up; n = 27).


Compared with individuals who remained untreated, individuals who sought help during Year 1 had more severe drinking problems, poorer psychosocial functioning and more negative life events at baseline; however, treated individuals had better drinking outcomes than untreated persons at the 1- and 3-year follow-ups. Compared to individuals who completed treatment in Year 1, additional treatment group members had more severe drinking problems at baseline and 1 year later, but better drinking outcomes at the 3-year follow-up. Formal treatment in conjunction with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was associated with better drinking outcomes than formal treatment alone. In addition, more involvement with formal inpatient or outpatient treatment, or AA, was associated with more improvement on drinking indices.


Overall, the findings suggest a reciprocal relationship between individuals' functioning and their participation in alcohol abuse interventions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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