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Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2015 Dec 21;10:48. doi: 10.1186/s13011-015-0045-y.

Prescription for antidepressant in reducing future alcohol-related readmission in patients suffering from depression and alcohol use disorder: a retrospective medical record review.

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Western University of Health Sciences, 309 E. 2nd St, Pomona, CA, 91766, USA.
University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, 757 Westwood Plaza, Room B531, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park, 1011 Baldwin Park Blvd, Baldwin Park, CA, USA.
Department of Emergency Medicine, North Shore-LIJ Long Island Jewish Medical Center, 270-05 76th Ave, New Hyde Park, NY, 11040, USA.



Patients suffering from major depressive disorder are more likely to suffer from alcohol use disorder. The data is inconclusive for the effectiveness of antidepressant treatment of patients suffering from both illnesses in regards to improving sobriety and reducing alcohol-related healthcare expenses such as hospitalizations. The objective of this study is to determine if a new prescription of an antidepressant upon inpatient discharge is associated with a reduction in the number of future acute alcohol-related hospital readmissions to the same institution in patients suffering from major depressive disorder and alcohol-use disorder.


A retrospective, medical record review study was conducted at a publicly-supported hospital in Sylmar, CA. A query was performed for adult patients admitted between 1/1/2005-12/31/2013 who had ICD-9 codes for both alcohol-use disorder and depression. Index admission was the first hospitalization in which the patient was currently consuming alcohol and had depression as identified by physician documentation as a problem. Acute alcohol-related admissions were those for alcohol intoxication or withdrawal (indicating current alcohol use). Patients were excluded if they were receiving an antidepressant on index admission, <18 years old, no patient data available, or not currently consuming alcohol; 139 patients met inclusion criteria. Multivariate logistical regression analysis was performed on the primary predictive variable of discharge prescription of an antidepressant along with other independent variables for alcohol readmissions: homelessness, family history of alcohol use disorder, and smoking.


Discharging patients with a prescription of an antidepressant was not associated with a reduction in acute alcohol-related readmission. There was no difference in acute alcohol-related readmissions between patients discharged with (44.6 %) versus without (47.0 %) a prescription for an antidepressant (pā€‰=ā€‰0.863). The median number of days between index admission and first readmission for those discharged on an antidepressant was 141 days while those who were not was 112 days (pā€‰=ā€‰0.284).


Discharging patients suffering from both alcohol-use disorder and major depressive disorder with a prescription for an antidepressant is not associated with a reduction in future readmissions, nor significantly increase the number of days to readmission. The study does not support the concept of antidepressants in reducing acute alcohol-related readmissions.

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