Prevalence of unhealthy alcohol use among medical inpatients is high.
At baseline and 12 months later, consumption and alcohol-related consequences were assessed. The outcome of interest was a favorable drinking outcome at 12 months (abstinence or drinking “moderate” amounts without consequences). The independent variables evaluated included demographics, physical/sexual abuse, drug use, depressive symptoms, alcohol dependence, commitment to change (Taking Action), spending time with heavy-drinking friends and receipt of alcohol treatment (after hospitalization). Adjusted regression models were used to evaluate factors associated with a favorable outcome.
Thirty-three percent had a favorable drinking outcome 1 year later. Not spending time with heavy-drinking friends [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.14, 95% CI: 1.14–4.00] and receipt of alcohol treatment [AOR (95% CI): 2.16(1.20–3.87)] were associated with a favorable outcome. Compared to the first quartile (lowest level) of Taking Action, subjects in the second, third and highest quartiles had higher odds of a favorable outcome [AOR (95% CI): 3.65 (1.47, 9.02), 3.39 (1.38, 8.31) and 6.76 (2.74, 16.67)].
Although most medical inpatients with unhealthy alcohol use continue drinking at-risk amounts and/or have alcohol-related consequences, one third are abstinent or drink “moderate” amounts without consequences 1 year later. Not spending time with heavy-drinking friends, receipt of alcohol treatment and commitment to change are associated with this favorable outcome. This can inform efforts to address unhealthy alcohol use among patients who often do not seek specialty treatment.
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