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Treated and untreated remission from problem drinking in late life: post-remission functioning and health-related quality of life.

Schutte KK, Brennan PL, Moos RH. Treated and untreated remission from problem drinking in late life: post-remission functioning and health-related quality of life. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2009 Jan 1; 99(1-3):150-9.

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the post-remission status of older remitted problem drinkers who achieved stable remission without treatment. METHOD: The post-remission drinking behavior, health-related functioning, life context, coping, and help-seeking of older, untreated (n = 330) and treated (n = 120) former problem drinkers who had been remitted for a minimum of 6 years were compared twice over the course of 6 years to each other and to lifetime nonproblem drinkers (n = 232). Analyses considered the impact of severity of drinking problem history. RESULTS: Untreated remitters were more likely than treated remitters to continue to drink, exhibited fewer chronic health problems and less depressive symptomatology, and were less likely to smoke. Untreated remitters'' life contexts were somewhat more benign than those of treated ones, and they were less likely to describe a coping motive for drinking and engage in post-remission help-seeking. Although untreated remitters more closely resembled lifetime nonproblem drinkers than did treated remitters, both untreated and treated remitter groups exhibited worse health-related functioning, more financial and interpersonal stressors, and more post-remission help-seeking than did lifetime nonproblem drinkers. CONCLUSIONS: Regardless of whether late-life remission was gained without or with treatment, prior drinking problems conveyed a legacy of health-related and life context deficits.

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