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Predictors of short-term course of drinking in untreated rural and urban at-risk drinkers: effects of gender, illegal drug use and psychiatric comorbidity.

Booth BM, Curran GM, Han X. Predictors of short-term course of drinking in untreated rural and urban at-risk drinkers: effects of gender, illegal drug use and psychiatric comorbidity. Journal of Studies On Alcohol. 2004 Jan 1; 65(1):63-73.

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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine predictors of changes in drinking and drinking consequences in untreated at-risk drinkers in a community sample. METHOD: Four waves of telephone interviews were conducted at 6-month intervals with a probability sample of at-risk drinkers in the rural and urban South (initial N = 733). Participants were interviewed at each wave regarding concurrent drug use, psychopathology and social support, as well as alcohol service use. Individuals reporting receiving services for drinking (n = 69) were dropped from the analyses. Longitudinal data were analyzed for predictors of quantity and frequency of drinking, "safe" drinking levels and diagnoses of recent alcohol disorder. Simultaneous and lagged models were fit for each dependent variable. RESULTS: Over the period of study, drinking quantity and alcohol diagnoses decreased, and safe drinking increased. Only a few variables, including drug use and rural residence, predicted change over time for some outcomes. Remaining significant effects associated with drinking outcomes were constant throughout the study. Women and participants scoring high on religiosity experienced better outcomes; illegal drug use and social consequences of drinking were associated with worse outcomes. Rural residents maintained higher drinking quantity and were less likely to be safe drinkers than urban residents were. Psychiatric comorbidity was significantly associated only with drinking quantity. CONCLUSIONS: These data distinguish which at-risk drinkers might benefit from short or delayed interventions in primary care or community settings, and which should receive more intensive, targeted interventions and be encouraged to enter formal treatment as soon as possible.

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