• Alcohol;
  • Scale;
  • Obsessive;
  • Compulsive;
  • Craving

It has been suggested that a crucial dimension of alcohol “craving” includes the concept of both obsessive thoughts about alcohol use and compulsive behaviors toward drinking. An interview-based rating scale, the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale-heavy drinkers (YBOCS-hd), has been found useful in quantifying this concept in alcohol-dependent individuals. A self-rating scale, the Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS) has been developed by us as a modification of the YBOCS-hd. The YBOCS-hd showed excellent interrater reliability in our hands. The correlation between the YBOCS-hd and the OCDS total scores obtained on 60 alcohol-dependent individuals was 0.83. The test-retest correlation for the OCDS total score was 0.96, and the obsessive and compulsive sub-scales test-retest correlations were 0.94 and 0.86, respectively. The internal consistency of the items in the OCDS was high (0.86) and did not improve significantly with removal of individual items. The shared variance between the OCDS scores and alcohol consumption during the period of evaluation was only = 20%, indicating that the dimension measured by the scale was somewhat independent of actual drinking. As such, it might act as an independent measure of the “state of illness” for alcohol-dependent individuals.

When used during a prospective 12-week treatment research study, initial results indicate that the OCDS seems to validly measure a dimension of alcohol dependence, because it decreased from baseline during alcohol reduction and increased in relationship to relapse drinking. The ease of administration (5 min), reliability, and concurrent validity of the OCDS makes it particularly suitable as a screening and outcome measurement tool for various types of clinical treatment and research protocols.