Life events and treatment outcomes among individuals with substance use disorders: A narrative review

Marketa Krenek, Stephen A. Maisto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Substance use disorders are characterized by a variable course, in which multiple treatment attempts and relapses are typical. Consistent with conceptualizations of substance use and relapse, life events have been implicated in contributing to poor substance use disorders treatment outcomes. However, inconsistencies in empirical findings regarding the life events-substance use disorders outcome literature have been previously observed. This review provides an updated critique of the literature since the previous review published in 1987 (O'Doherty & Davies, 1987), examining the relationship between life events and substance use disorders treatment outcome among clinical samples of individuals. Review of 18 peer-reviewed articles suggested that data on the life events-outcome relationship continue to be inconclusive. Inconsistencies across studies in the operationalization of life events and substance use treatment outcomes and lack of theoretically driven designs may be contributing to differences in findings. Recommendations for future research that will increase the clinical utility of the life events construct are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-483
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Clinical
  • Life events
  • Substance use disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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