Alcohol and Psychiatric Comorbidity

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Comorbid psychiatric disorders and drug use disorders (DUDs) are common among alcoholics (Regier, Farmer, Rae, Locke, Keith, Judd, & Goodwin, 1990; Kessler, McGonagle, Zhao, Nelson, Hughes, Eshleman, Wittchen, & Kendler, 1994). These comorbid disorders often predict a shorter time to relapse of alcoholism (Greenfield, Weiss, Muenz, Vagge, Kelly, Bello, & Michael, 1998). However, despite the prevalence and the adverse effects of this comorbidity, few controlled treatment studies have been conducted involving this dual diagnosis population (Litten & Allen, 1999). To date, most of these few studies of alcoholics with comorbid disorders have been restricted to studies of alcoholics with either comorbid major depression or comorbid anxiety disorders (Litten & Allen, 1995). The results of these trials suggest efficacy for SSRI antidepressants and tricyclic antidepressants for treating alcoholics with comorbid major depression and suggest efficacy for buspirone for treating alcoholics with comorbid anxiety disorders (Mason, Kocsis, Ritvo, & Cutler, 1996; Cornelius, Salloum, Ehler, Jarrett, Cornelius, Perel, Thase, & Black, 1997; Kranzler, Burleson, Del Boca, Babor, Korner, Brown, & Bohn, 1994). However, controlled treatment studies involving alcoholics with other comorbid disorders are almost totally lacking. Consequently, to date, no empirically proven treatment exists for most of these comorbid disorders.