Alcoholic Recovery May Cure Anti-social behavior

A high prevalence of co-morbid psychiatric disorders has been demonstrated in individuals with an alcohol use disorder in both community and treatment samples, with higher co-morbidity in treatment samples.

Lifetime and current psychiatric diagnoses in long-term abstinent alcoholic individuals (average length of sobriety 6.3 years) were studied and compared with age and gender-comparable non-alcoholics.


  • Over 85% of Long-term abstinent alcoholics had a psychiatric diagnosis at some time in their life other than alcoholism, compared with 50% of non-alcoholics.
  • Long-term abstinent alcoholic individuals had a higher rate than non-alcoholics of lifetime mood, anxiety, and externalizing disorder diagnoses.
  • Long-term abstinent alcoholic individuals also had a greater prevalence than non-alcoholics of current mood and anxiety diagnoses.
  • Although Long-term abstinent alcoholics had a greater lifetime prevalence of an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) than non-alcoholics, no Long-term abstinent alcoholics or non-alcoholics had a current ASPD diagnosis.
  • Finally, there was no association of length of abstinence with lifetime or current psychiatric diagnoses, consistent with psychiatric diagnoses having little effect on relapse.

Our results suggest that:

  • the presence of a lifetime psychiatric diagnosis does not work against achieving long-term abstinence,
  • abstinence can be maintained in the presence of a current mood or anxiety disorder, and
  • a current diagnosis of ASPD may not be compatible with long-term abstinence.

The relatively absence of antisocial behavior raises the question of whether antisocial behavior is;

  • modified by sobriety, or
  • controlled by the person,
  • or both.

Reference; Victoria Di Sclafani, Peter Finn, George Fein. Psychiatric Comorbidity in Long-Term Abstinent Alcoholic Individuals. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Bloggers comment; Many a recovering alcoholic will tell you that anti-social hevaior began to disappear as they did their 12-Step program of recovery.

Twelve Step Facilitation training is available at


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