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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2012 Sep;36(9):1550-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01772.x. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

Gait and balance in treatment-naïve active alcoholics with and without a lifetime drug codependence.

Author information

1
Neurobehavioral Research, Inc, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814, USA. george@nbresearch.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Disturbed gait and balance are among the most consistent sequelae of chronic alcoholism. However, although a majority of alcoholics have never sought treatment, most investigations showing ataxia in alcohol-dependent individuals have relied on samples drawn from treated populations. In addition, few studies have addressed the associations of codependence on other drugs with alcoholic gait and balance disturbance.

METHODS:

This study employed the Walk-a-Line Ataxia Battery (Fregly et al. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1972;43:395-399) to assess gait and balance in treatment-naïve, actively drinking alcohol-dependent men and women (TNA; n = 69) who were dependent on alcohol only (ALC; n = 43), or who also had a lifetime drug dependence (ALC + DRG; n = 26; i.e., methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates, and/or marijuana), compared with nonsubstance abusing controls (NSAC; n = 74).We also examined associations between lifetime alcohol use and age with gait and balance measures.

RESULTS:

Our main findings were (i) no evidence of disturbed gait and balance in ALC versus NSAC and (ii) significantly disturbed gait and balance in ALC + DRG, relative to both NSAC and ALC, along with steeper age-associated decline in gait and balance performance in ALC versus ALC + DRG.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results provide evidence consistent with previous studies that TNA (without a lifetime drug codependence) may represent a population that is different and less impaired (including in gait and balance) than treated alcoholics. Additionally, we provide evidence that ALC + DRG, with greater alcohol use and family drinking density than ALC, have an accelerated effect of age on gait and balance disturbance compared with both NSAC and ALC. The ALC + DRG group likely represents a subset of TNA with different characteristics than ALC.

PMID:
22390787
PMCID:
PMC3371304
DOI:
10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01772.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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