Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2015 Jul 29;39(7):1236-42. Epub 2015 May 29.
CHU de Rennes, Unité d'Addictologie, Rennes, France.
Background: Relapse is common in patients with alcohol dependence, even after detoxification. The aims of this prospective study were to investigate changes affecting patients during the first 6 months after discharge from hospitalization for detoxification and to determine the influence of these changes on the likelihood of alcohol-related emergency room (ER) visits in the following 18-month period.
Methods: The study included 88 patients hospitalized for participation in a detoxification program in the addiction department of a university hospital in Rennes, France. Alcohol consumption, psychiatric symptoms, and life events were investigated by addiction specialists during hospitalization and 6 months afterward. For each patient, the number of alcohol-related ER visits in the last 6 months was prospectively recorded at the hospital 12, 18, and 24 months after hospitalization. The rate ratios of ER visits as a function of sociodemographic variables and changes observed 6 months after discharge were estimated using Poisson regression with autoregressive errors.
Results: Nearly half of the patients (47.7%) had ER visits in the 12- to 24-month period following discharge. The likelihood of ER visits was higher for patients living with friends/parents and for those with aggravated psychiatric symptoms, negative changes in their family life, and who had a medical follow-up in the 6 months after discharge. In contrast, the likelihood of ER visits was lower for patients living with children and those with improved psychiatric morbidity. Alcohol consumption and psychiatric symptoms at baseline had no significant effect.
Conclusions: Monitoring changes in psychiatric symptoms and family life early after a detoxification program may help identify patients who are vulnerable to relapse in the subsequent 18-month period. Systematic screening for these changes as early as possible, in combination with appropriate treatment and the establishment of a social support system, could be fundamental in avoiding further relapses and ER visits.