Comorbid phobic disorders do not influence outcome of alcohol dependence treatment. Results of a naturalistic follow-up study

Loes A. Marquenie*, Annemiek Schadé, Anton J.L.M. Van Balkom, Maarten Koeter, Sipke Frenken, Wim Van Den Brink, Richard Van Dyck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims: Despite claims that comorbid anxiety disorders tend to lead to a poor outcome in the treatment of alcohol dependence, the few studies on this topic show conflicting results. Objective: To test whether the out come of treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent patients with a comorbid phobic disorder is worse than that of similar patients without a comorbid phobic disorder. Methods: The probabilities of starting to drink again and of relapsing into regular heavy drinking in (i) a group of 81 alcohol-dependent patients with comorbid social phobia or agoraphobia were compared with those in (ii) a group of 88 alcohol-dependent patients without anxiety disorders in a naturalistic follow-up using Cox regression analysis. Results: Adjusted for initial group differences, the hazard ratio for the association of phobic disorders with resumption of drinking was 1.05 (95% CI, 0.85-1.30, P = 0.66) and the adjusted hazard ratio for the association of phobic disorders with a relapse into regular heavy drinking was 1.02 (95% CI, 0.78-1.33, P = 0.89). Conclusion: The findings of this study do not confirm the idea that alcohol-dependent patients who have undergone alcohol-dependence treatment are at greater risk of a relapse if they have a comorbid anxiety disorder. No differences were found in abstinence duration or time to relapse into regular heavy drinking between patients with and without comorbid phobic disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-173
Number of pages6
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006

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