IMPACT OF CRAVING ON ALCOHOL RELAPSE DURING, AND 12 MONTHS FOLLOWING, OUTPATIENT TREATMENT

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Abstract

Aims

This study investigated the relationship between craving in abstinent alcohol-dependent patients measured by the Obsessive Compulsive Craving Scale (OCDS) (Anton et al., 1995) and relapse during and after completion of an intensive outpatient treatment programme.

Methods

In a prospective study, participants were interviewed at entry to, and end of, an outpatient treatment programme, and 12 months after the end of the programme. To measuring craving the OCDS total score by Anton et al. (1995) and the three-factor model by Kranzler et al. (1999) were used. OCDS was administered at the beginning of treatment (when all patients were abstinent), and at the end of treatment in those who were abstinent and had completed the programme.

Results

Of 103 alcohol-dependent patients, 74 completed the treatment programme and at follow-up after 12 months 97% of these patients were personally re-interviewed. Thirty-two patients (31%) relapsed during the treatment phase. They had significantly higher craving measured by the total OCDS score and a significantly higher score on the subscales ‘obsessions’ and ‘drinking control and consequences’ compared to abstinent patients. Of the 74 patients who completed the programme 16% had a major relapse in the next 12 months. Major relapse was predicted by the total OCDS score and the subscale ‘obsessions’.

Conclusions

OCDS total score predicts relapse in outpatient treatment. Treatment and aftercare of patients with high craving should be intensified. In our study design, the subscales of the three-factor model by Kranzler et al. (1999) provided only little information gain compared to the OCDS total score.

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