Alcohol use disorder has a substantial impact on patients’ caregivers, leading to burden and adverse effects on their psychological health. Currently, there is limited literature which is available to suggest whether the burden and psychological distress of the family members change when patients with alcohol dependence undergo treatment. This study aimed to longitudinally examine the change in burden, depression, anxiety, and stress experienced by caregivers of patients with alcohol dependence undergoing treatment.
Subjects and Methods:
This prospective observational study recruited treatment-seeking men with alcohol dependence and their caregivers as dyads. The burden, depression, anxiety, and stress of caregivers were assessed at baseline and at six weeks, using the Family Burden Interview Schedule and Depression Anxiety Stress Scale, respectively. Pre and post values were compared using paired t-test. Interaction effects of resumption of drinking were assessed using repeated measures test.
Of the 101 dyads recruited in the study, 60 could be followed up at six weeks. Significant decrements were seen in burden, depression, anxiety, and stress of caregivers at six weeks compared to baseline (mean 62.3%, 54.2%, 65.9%, and 53.4%, respectively, all P < 0.001). The decrement in burden and depression was lower in those caregivers where the patients had resumed alcohol use within the span of six weeks.
Findings suggest that engagement in treatment by patients with alcohol dependence may reduce the burden and psychological distress among their caregivers, more so in situations where the patients had quit alcohol. However, the change in burden and psychological distress could be due to several other factors as well.