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J Stud Alcohol. 2005 Mar;66(2):220-8.

Individual and partner predictors of recovery from alcohol-use disorder over a nine-year interval: findings from a community sample of alcoholic married men.

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Department of Psychiatry and Addiction Research Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.



Numerous studies have focused on the predictors of recovery in persons with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Most have been retrospective and have measured only predictors of short-term recovery after the completion of treatment. This prospective study evaluates the role of psychological and social factors in a community sample of both alcoholics and their partners in predicting recovery over a 9-year interval.


Alcoholic diagnostic status and life functioning of 134 community-recruited, initially coupled men meeting criteria for a 3-year Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, AUD diagnosis at baseline were assessed over the 9-year period. Their partners also were assessed. Prediction involved comparing those who still had an AUD diagnosis at 9-year follow-up against those who no longer met AUD criteria.


Predictors of recovery included number of experiences with treatment, education, number of years of intervening recovery over the follow-up period, partner baseline AUD status and partner's social support network. Alcoholics' initial severity of drinking did not predict long-term outcome. Furthermore, recovered men's partners decreased their AUD in the interim, whereas nonremitters' partners increased their AUD. The findings highlight the transitions in and out of AUD, with 62% of the men having stable drinking patterns of either remission or unremitting AUD diagnosis over the entire follow-up period.


This study demonstrated the importance of interpersonal factors in maintaining AUD or promoting recovery. Consideration of partner characteristics and the marital context as factors in the recovery process is essential. Future research should examine the predictors of recovery in women, in adolescents and in racial groups other than white.

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