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Association Between Low Plasma Levels of Cholesterol and Relapse in Cocaine Addicts

Buydens-Branchey, Laure MD, and; Branchey, Marc MD

doi: 10.1097/01.PSY.0000039754.23250.EE
Original Articles

Objective In light of recent studies suggesting the existence of associations between low concentrations of cholesterol and various psychiatric disorders, we decided to explore relationships between cholesterol levels and relapse rates in a group of cocaine addicts who had undergone inpatient detoxification.

Methods The total cholesterol levels of 38 non–opiate-dependent and non–alcohol-dependent cocaine addicts were determined while they were hospitalized. Drug use was subsequently assessed 3, 6, and 12 months after patients were discharged from the hospital.

Results Comparisons of the cholesterol levels (obtained during hospitalization) of relapsers and nonrelapsers by analyses of covariance with age and weight as covariates revealed significantly lower cholesterol values in patients who relapsed at 3 months (p = .046), 6 months (p = .030), and 12 months (p = .019) after discharge.

Conclusions This study showed an association between a low total cholesterol level and relapse rates in detoxified cocaine addicts. Reasons for the predictive value of low cholesterol levels for relapse for up to 1 year after cholesterol measurements were made are unclear. These data are preliminary and in need of replication.

From the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, Brooklyn Campus, and State University of New York–Health Science Center at Brooklyn, Brooklyn, New York.

Address reprint requests to: Laure Buydens-Branchey, MD, Brooklyn Campus (11S/BK), VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, 800 Poly Place, Brooklyn, NY 11209. Email:

Received for publication August 17, 2001; revision received February 5, 2002.

Copyright © 2003 by American Psychosomatic Society
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