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In one multicentre follow-up four years after treatment 28% of survivors had been abstinent for 6 months and a further 18% were drinking asymptomatically (Rand Report).

There is evidence that some people move in and out of heavy drinking regardless of treatment. Factors associated with spontaneous improvement include changes in lifestyle or personal relationships, alcohol-induced physical damage or spiritual experiences.

The best results of treatment are obtained from programmes in which patients are carefully selected, receive intense treatment and benefit from careful follow-up. Outcome does not relate closely to the type of treatment or length of in-patient stay.

Armor et al. (1976). Alcoholism and treatment, Rand corporation and Wiley Interscience, Santa Monica.

Last reviewed 01/2018