Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Impact of Lifetime Alcohol Quit Attempts and Medicated Detoxifications on Time to Relapse During an Index Alcohol Detoxification

Wright, Tara M. MD; Myrick, Hugh MD; Malcolm, Robert MD; Randall, Patrick PhD; Boyle, Elizabeth MSW; Henderson, Scott BA; Anton, Raymond MD

Journal of Addiction Medicine: March 2007 - Volume 1 - Issue 1 - pp 15-20
doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e318044ce4f
Original Article

Previous work has shown that multiple medication-treated alcohol detoxifications are associated with poorer treatment outcomes during subsequent detoxifications. Little is known about the impact of nonmedicated attempts to stop drinking outside the realm of these medically supervised detoxifications on acute detoxification outcomes. This study included 58 subjects enrolled in an outpatient detoxification study. Subjects were asked why and how often they quit alcohol for 3 days or longer during their drinking lifetime using concepts derived from the Cognitive Lifetime Drinking History. The effect of previous attempts at abstinence (both medicated and nonmedicated) on time to relapse during an index detoxification was examined. After the index detoxification, older individuals relapsed later than younger individuals and the number of previous medicated detoxifications rather than total lifetime quit attempts per se was related to quicker relapse. Contrary to expectation, those who reported fewer previous nonmedicated quit attempts tended to relapse sooner than those who reported more past quit attempts. This study supports and extends previous work that suggests that the number of previous medicated detoxifications, rather than the total number of past attempts at abstinence, predicts higher and sooner risk for early relapse drinking during outpatient alcohol detoxification.

From the Center for Drug and Alcohol Program (TMW, HM, RM, PR, EB, SH, RA), Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Charleston, SC; and Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center (HM), Research and Development Service, Charleston, SC.

Received December 13, 2006; revised February 2, 2007; accepted February 4, 2007.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Tara Wright, MUSC, Institute of Psychiatry 4N, 67 President Street, Charleston, SC 29425. e-mail:

This study was supported by an Alcohol Research Center Grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (P50 AA010761 and P50AA00314) and VA Medical Research. Additional support was provided by the NIAAA (T32 AA007474 to TMW).

The was presented at the meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Toronto, Canada, May 23, 2006.

© 2007 American Society of Addiction Medicine