n South African Journal of Psychiatry - Psychiatric comorbidity among alcohol-dependent individuals seeking treatment at the Alcohol Rehabilitation Unit, Stikland Hospital - original research

Volume 25 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1608-9685
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6786



Background: International studies have found high rates of psychiatric comorbidity among patients with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and highlighted the clinical and prognostic implications of this finding. There is a paucity of information with regard to the extent of this problem within the South African context.

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity (DSM IV-TR) in treatment-seeking, alcohol-dependent South Africans.

Setting: This study was conducted at the Alcohol Rehabilitation Unit (ARU), Stikland Hospital, Western Cape.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted over a 6-month period. The Mini- International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI, version 5) was used to assess psychiatric comorbidity in 101 (male, n = 65; 64.5%) alcohol-dependent patients. Interviews were conducted after the first week of admission to ward 13.

Results: Most participants (n = 63, 62.4%) had a co-occurring psychiatric disorder, the most common being major depressive (n = 30, 29.7%) and anxiety disorders (n = 43, 42.6%). Of the anxiety disorders, agoraphobia without a history of panic disorder (n = 10, 9.9%) and social phobia (n = 10, 9.9%) occurred most frequently, followed by generalised anxiety disorder (n = 9, 8.9%) and post-traumatic stress disorder (n = 9, 8.9%). Thirteen patients (13%) had a comorbid substance use disorder other than AUD.

Conclusion: The prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity at this unit is high, especially among female patients. The findings emphasise a need to thoroughly assess patients and provide treatment and personnel who can manage the complex needs of a dual diagnosis patient population.

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