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Keywords:

  • Alcohol Use Disorder;
  • Depression;
  • Bipolar Disorder;
  • Treatment

Background

Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and affective disorders commonly co-occur, and this co-occurrence is mutually detrimental. To date, few long-term outcome studies exist involving patients with these comorbid disorders. We wished to determine treatment outcomes 5 years after inpatient integrated treatment in patients with these co-occurring disorders, and identify prognostic factors associated with long-term outcome.

Methods

Two hundred and five depressed and bipolar patients with AUD who completed an inpatient integrated treatment program for dual diagnosis were assessed at baseline, posttreatment discharge, and at 3 months, 6 months, 2 years, and 5 years after treatment.

Results

The retention rate at 3 months postdischarge was 95.6%, 75.6% at 6 months, 70.2% at 2 years, and 55.6% at 5 years. Depression, elation, anxiety, and craving scores all fell over the 5-year period, as did the drinking outcome measures in both the depressed and bipolar alcoholics. Each of the primary drinking outcome measures had independent prognostic factors: abstinence at 2 years predicted abstinence at 5 years; number of drinking days at 6 months and 2 years predicted number of drinking days at 5 years; number of drinks per drinking day at 6 months and 2 years predicted number of drinks per drinking day at 5 years. Moreover, the majority of nonabstinent light drinkers at 3 months, who had significantly reduced their mean weekly alcohol consumption since baseline, remained light drinkers at 5 years and very few went on to be heavy drinkers. Indeed, if they did alter category by 5 years, they tended to become abstinent.

Conclusions

Dual diagnosis of AUD and depression or bipolar disorder may be treated successfully together with intensive intervention and follow-up, and various prognostic factors emerge. Early abstinence predicts later abstinence, and the vast majority of those who achieve light drinking early in recovery remain light drinkers or become abstinent at 5 years.