Viewing videotape of themselves while experiencing delirium tremens could reduce the relapse rate in alcohol-dependent patients

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AimsThe aim of this prospective randomized controlled study was to determine whether viewing videotape of themselves while experiencing delirium tremens (DT) reduces the relapse rate in alcohol-dependent patients. Our hypothesis about the efficacy of videotapes exposure to DT is consistent with a cognitive behavior model.DesignSixty patients with DT and a minimum of 3 years of severe alcohol dependence [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version IV (DSM-IV criteria] were included in this study. Patients were videotaped during the acute phase of DT and randomized into two groups: group A patients received individual exposure to their videotape and an explanation of the symptoms by a psychiatrist; and control group B patients, who were without videotape experience. Both groups received the same treatment during the acute and the maintenance phases, without aversive therapy or psychotherapy. The two groups did not differ significantly in number of drinks per day prior to admission, age, marital status, social environment, education, professional and financial status or family psychiatric history.SettingAn in-patient crisis unit for patients with alcohol dependence.MeasurementsAll patients were observed for 6 months during monthly visits. Outcomes included relapse, drinking days per week and number of drinks per drinking day. All patients and their families signed informed consent.FindingsThe patients with videotape experience had a significantly lower relapse rate after the first month (0% versus 20%), 2 months (13.33% versus 46.67%) and 3 months (26.67% versus 53.33%). Patients with videotape experience had less severe relapses and consumed fewer units of alcohol than controls.ConclusionsVideotape exposure in delirium tremens is an original therapeutic method which seems to be effective in reducing relapse risk in patients with alcohol dependence.

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