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Age-Related Psychiatric Comorbidities and Level of Functioning in Alcoholic Veterans Seeking Outpatient Treatment
Frederic C. Blow; Cynthia A. Loveland Cook; Brenda M. Booth; Spencer P. Falcon; Matthew J. Friedman
Psychiatric Services 1992; doi:
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This study was supported by the VA chief medical director's special committee on posttraumatic stress disorder, the VA Great Lakes Regional Health Services research and development field program, the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grant P50-AA07378). The authors thank Frederick B. Glaser, M. D., for helpful comments.

Alcohol Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, 400 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite A, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis

Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, Iowa

VA central region in Ann Arbor

VA National Center for PTSD Research in White River Junction, Vermont

1992 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

The relationship of age and of level of adaptive functioning to comorbidity of mental disorders among alcoholics was studied in a survey of all alcoholics seeking outpatient mental health treatment in the Veterans Affairs mental health care system during a one-month period in 1986 (N=22,463). More than half of the alcoholics outpatients had one or more comorbid psychiatric diagnoses. Rates for comorbid substance abuse disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders peaked in younger acoholics and then decreased with age. Agerelated increases were observed for major depression, anxiety disorders, and organic brain syndrome or dementia. DSM-III axis V ratings of poor to grossly impaired f unctioning were consistent across age groups. More than half of alcoholics with a comorbid psychiatric disorder were rated as severely impaired, compared with less than a third of those with no comorbid mental disorder.

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