Polydrug use in an inpatient treatment sample of problem drinkers

Christopher S. Martin, Patrick R. Clifford, Stephen A. Maisto, Mitchell Earleywine, Levent Kirisci, Richard Longabaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Over the past 30 years in the United States, there have bean marked secular increases in polydrug use. Alcohol and other substance use disorders are highly comorbid. Yet, little research has characterized patterns of polydrug use in persons with alcohol dependence. In particular, little is known about this population's use of alcohol and other drugs in combination or on the same day, which is termed simultaneous polydrug use (SPU). This research assessed patterns of SPU in 212 problem drinkers who participated in an alcohol treatment outcome study. Subjects were given a Time-Line Follow- Back interview that assessed the use of alcohol end nine other drug classes for each day of the 120 days before treatment entry. A majority of subjects (61%) reported SPU during this assessment interval. Subjects who reported SPU were disproportionately younger, male, and unmarried, compared with those who did not report SPU. The most common alcohol/drug combinations were alcohol with cocaine (60% of subjects who reported SPU), alcohol with marijuana (51% of SPU subjects), and alcohol with sedatives (31% of SPU subjects). The most common three-drug combination was alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana (23% of SPU subjects). Alcohol use and drug use were associated at the event level, significantly more than association predicted by the base rates of the individual behaviors. Time-Line Follow-Back data correlated highly with a questionnaire measure of SPU. Results indicate that polydrug use is an important focus for assessment and intervention in alcohol treatment programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-417
Number of pages5
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • Alcohol Dependence
  • Drug Use
  • Polydrug Use
  • Time Line Follow-Back

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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