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Anxiety disorders can compromise success of alcohol-dependence treatment

  • Anxiety disorders and alcohol dependence co-occur at an alarming rate.
  • Researchers investigate what effect anxiety disorders may have on the success of alcoholism treatment.
  • Social phobia was the single best predictor of a return to any drinking following treatment; panic disorder was the single best predictor of a relapse to alcohol dependence following treatment.

Anxiety disorders and alcohol dependence co-occur at an alarming rate. A study in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research examines what effects a co-existing anxiety disorder may have on relapse following treatment for alcoholism. Results indicate that two of the most common anxiety disorders found among alcoholics social phobia and panic disorder are more strongly associated with alcohol relapse than other anxiety disorders.

"Researchers and clinicians have long observed that the rate of anxiety disorders among those suffering with alcohol dependence is two to four times greater than that found in the general population," said Matt G. Kushner, associate professor at the University of Minnesota and corresponding author for the study. "Anxiety disorders are fairly common to begin with, about 15 percent of all adults, but the rate of anxiety disorders among alcohol-disordered individuals can be as high as 50 percent. Our research asked: 'what does the presence of these co-occurring disorders imply about optimal clinical approaches and treatment outcomes?'"

"Although the high rate of co-occurrence of these two types of mental health disorders is very well established," added Sherry H. Stewart, professor of psychiatry, psychology, and community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University, "relatively little is known about the 'clinical significance' of this co-morbidity. For example, does having a co-morbid anxiety disorder influence a person's response to alcoholism treatment? More specifically, do those with a
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14-Aug-2005


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