Within-AUD outpatient treatment heavy drinking transitions and associations with long-term outcomes

Stephen A. Maisto, Kevin A. Hallgren, Julia E. Swan, Corey Roos, Katie Witkiewitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine whether changes in heavy drinking occurring within alcohol treatment predict long-term functioning. Method: Latent profile analyses were conducted using data from Project MATCH and COMBINE. Observed changes in heavy and nonheavy drinking within consecutive 2-week periods over the respective treatment durations were characterized for each participant and were used to identify latent profiles. Results: Both data sets revealed 6 profiles: (1) continuous “remission” (nonheavy drinking); (2) transition from heavy drinking (“relapse”) to remission; (3) mostly remission, limited relapse; (4) numerous short transitions between relapse and remission; (5) transition to relapse; and (6) continuous relapse. Profiles 1 and 2 had the best long-term outcomes, Profiles 5 and 6 had the worst, and Profiles 3 and 4 fell between these groups. Within-treatment patterns of heavy drinking and nonheavy drinking were also associated with post-treatment patterns of relapse and remission. Conclusions: Patterns of transition between episodes that respectively include heavy and nonheavy drinking predict long-term alcohol use and psychosocial outcomes and seem essential for clinicians to discuss with their patients. Relapses during outpatient treatment do not necessarily indicate treatment failure, provided they are relatively brief and/or infrequent. In addition, some individuals can and do change from transition patterns of heavy drinking within treatment that are predictive of poorer long-term functioning to transition patterns that predict better functioning within the first year post-treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108968
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Clinical course
  • Latent profile analysis
  • Long-term outcomes
  • Transition pattern
  • Within-treatment drinking status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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