This study considered whether the toxic effects of alcohol dependence could be misdiagnosed and treated as a primary psychiatric disorder and that mental health providers need to be extremely vigilant in the diagnosis and treatment planning when their cases involve alcohol consumption. It was hypothesized that involvement in an abstinence oriented outpatient alcohol dependency treatment program would foster abstinence from alcohol, and thereby also reduce cognitive and personality disturbances related to alcohol toxicity and often relied on in the diagnosis of non- alcohol related mental disorder. Twenty-four alcohol dependent DWl offenders were studied to determine the effectiveness of an abstinence oriented outpatient alcohol treatment program in reducing levels of psychopathology commonly evident during alcohol withdrawal. Results indicated, with low levels of confidence due to methodological problems, an improvement on the Logical Memory subtest of the Weschler Memory Scale, the Depression, and the Digit Span sub-test of the WAIS-R. No significant differences were found between pre and post tests for the Trail Making Test, or the Psychasthenia and Schizophrenia scales of the MMPI. It was hypothesized that the improvements may have been the result of abstinence which may have been induced by the combined influence of (1) involvement with the judicial system, (2) involvement in an alcohol treatment program, and (3) signing an agreement to abstain from alcohol use.
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