The relationship between abstinence for one year following pretreatment assessment and alcohol use and other functioning at two years in individuals presenting for alcohol treatment

Stephen A Maisto, Patrick R. Clifford, Richard Longabaugh, Martha Beattie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to replicate and extend research that shows abstinence from alcohol during the first year following treatment predicts better longer term functioning in alcohol use and other areas. Method: The subjects were 187 men and women who had participated in a clinical trial of the differential effectiveness of two behavioral treatments for alcohol problems as a function of subject characteristics. All subjects who participated in this phase of the study were classified as either abstinent from alcohol or not based on their drinking behavior during the first 12 months following treatment initiation. Subjects' alcohol use and other behaviors were evaluated for Months 13-24. The primary dependent variables of interest were alcohol use, self-efficacy, and psychological functioning. Results: A comparison of the two abstinence groups showed that abstainers, compared to drinkers, had less alcohol use, higher self-efficacy, and better psychological functioning. Conclusions: The results suggest the association is robust between abstinence during the first year following treatment initiation or cessation and later functioning, and extend this finding to include psychological functioning. Future research should focus on possible mediators of the abstinence correlations with later behavior that are of theoretical and practical importance, and on specifying gradients of duration of abstinence or other drinking patterns reflecting improvement and their relationship to longer term functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-403
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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