Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Alcohol Alcohol. 2003 Nov-Dec;38(6):613-8.

Dependence on legal psychotropic drugs among alcoholics.

Author information

  • 1Department of Clinical Alcohol Research, Malmö University Hospital, Lund University, Vårdcentralen Kirseberg, Malmö, Karlsvik Rehabilitation Centre, Höör, Sweden.



Dependence on legal psychotropic drugs (PTD) has been reported to have increased in alcoholics, but previous studies report conflicting results concerning the rate of increase and clinical characteristics. The aim of the present study was first, to assess the dependence rate of PTD among alcoholics in open and institutionalized care, and to compare these populations with the general population, and second, to assess rates and doses of high- and low-dose PTD-dependence among alcoholics.


In 1997, alcoholics in open and institutionalized care were asked to anonymously fill in a questionnaire on their drug use and dependence. Healthy controls were included. The number of attending subjects was 130 open-care alcoholics at the Department of Alcohol and Drug Diseases in Malmö, Sweden; 23 alcoholics in institutionalized care at Karlsvik Rehabilitation Centre in Höör, Sweden; and 120 healthy controls at Vårdcentralen Kirseberg, a primary health care centre located in a Malmö area. The approximate attendance rate was 75, 70 and 95%, respectively. The questionnaire was based on DSM-IV criteria for dependence.


The total rate of PTD-dependent alcoholics was higher in the institutionalized group (35%) than in the open-care setting (14%): difference in proportions (p(1)-p(2) 21%; 95% CI: 1%, 41%). Alcoholics were more often PTD-dependent (17%) than were healthy controls (2%), (p(1)-p(2) 15%; 95% CI: 9%, 21%). Benzodiazepines (BZD) were the most common PTD. Only four out of a total of 23 BZD-dependent alcoholics developed high-dose BZD-dependence. Those subjects were also misusing other drugs, including cannabis.


We conclude that alcoholism is associated with legal PTD-dependence and illegal drug misuse. High-dose BZD-dependence is infrequent among BZD-dependent alcoholics.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center