JOURNAL ARTICLE

Severity of alcohol dependence in patients with alcoholic liver disease

A D Wodak, J B Saunders, I Ewusi-Mensah, M Davis, R Williams
British Medical Journal (1981-1988) 1983 November 12, 287 (6403): 1420-2
6416438
To determine the severity of dependence on alcohol in patients with alcoholic liver disease the severity of alcohol dependence questionnaire was administered to 193 patients with various types of alcoholic liver disease established histologically, in whom a detailed history of lifetime alcohol consumption was also obtained. Only 34 patients (18%) were classified as being severely dependent compared with 56% of patients without overt liver disease who were attending a neighbouring alcohol treatment unit. There was a significant correlation between the severity of dependence and mean daily alcohol consumption (r = 0.45 and 0.39 for men and women, respectively) but not duration of drinking. Dependence scores tended to be lower in patients with cirrhosis than in those with precirrhotic liver disease, but this difference reached significance only in women. These findings confirm that patients who develop chronic alcoholic liver disease are usually only mildly dependent on alcohol and support the hypothesis that patients who escape florid symptoms of alcohol dependence are at greater risk of developing liver damage because they are able to sustain a continual consumption of alcohol over many years.

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