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Alcohol. 1996 Sep-Oct;13(5):415-21.

Effects of long-term abstinence on psychological functioning: a prospective longitudinal analysis comparing alcohol-dependent patients and healthy volunteers.

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Substance Abuse Clinic, Sabbatsberg's Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Using a prospective longitudinal design, differences between abstinent alcohol-dependent patients (n = 15) and abstinent healthy volunteers (n = 11) were determined with respect to their psychological functioning and alcohol consumption patterns following abstinence. Results showed no differences in alcohol consumption. In 20% of the patients and 9% of the controls more than 10% of protocols indicated alcohol intake, and in 27% of the patients and 27% of the controls less than 10% of protocols indicated alcohol intake. Total abstinence was reported by 53% of the patients and by 64% of the controls. For patients, validation of self-reported alcohol consumption was carried out via biological markers. Patients and controls differed in terms of increased sleep, euphoria, concentration, initiative, anxiety, negative and positive craving, pessimistic thoughts, autonomic disturbances, and humour. A gradual normalization back to baseline levels was observed for some symptoms. These results suggest that affective/mood states may be unstable for alcoholics, and further, that these symptoms may be related to the protracted withdrawal syndrome or may represent residual symptomatology.

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