Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Addiction. 1995 Mar;90(3):375-89.

The role of problem drinking in psychiatric admissions.

Author information

Alcohol Research Group, Western Consortium for Public Health, University of California, Berkeley 94709, USA.


Although problem drinkers are over-represented in psychiatric treatment populations throughout the United States, it is unclear whether this is primarily due to difficulties in differentially diagnosing alcohol and mental problems and to high rates of comorbidity, or to factors unique to help-seeking for alcohol problems. This article examines the role that alcohol problems play in treatment entry to inpatient and outpatient mental health agencies, considering the potential roles of a drinking problem both as a condition perceived by the sufferer to require a psychiatrist's help, and as a source of social disruption that activates others to encourage mental health treatment. Analysis focuses on comparing samples of newly admitted patients in a community mental health system and untreated individuals with high levels of psychiatric symptoms living in the same community. Experiencing the adverse social consequences of a drinking problem, holding the belief that drinking has caused one's psychological problems, and having prior experiences in mental health treatment for a drinking problem are factors found to be positively associated with psychiatric admissions, while heavier drinking and dependence symptoms are not. Further analysis of events precipitating psychiatric admission suggests that an important role for the mental health system vis à vis alcohol problems is to contain social disruptions attributable to problem drinking in the community. Alcohol-related psychiatric admissions are found to have more frequently involved public disruptions, to have elicited police or court referrals, and to have more often resulted in the client's going to a locked hospital ward, as opposed to a mental health outpatient clinic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Support Center