Society For The Study Of Addiction

Patient engagement and follow up after specialist in-patient alcohol detoxification in Scotland

[This poster was first presented at the SSA Annual Symposium 2013].



There is limited data relating to patient engagement and outcomes following specialist in-patient alcohol detoxification. Research is challenging, since patients often disengage with services and relapse rates are high.  This survey aimed to establish baseline immediate follow up data to inform a proposed Scottish, multi-centre, randomised controlled trial of a relapse prevention medication.


Over a six week period, a cohort of admissions for alcohol detoxification to the Ritson Clinic (specialist in-patient addictions unit) were provided with information about the study and asked for consent to follow up. To obtain measures of patient engagement and short-term outcomes, the cohort was followed up at 2, 4 and 6 weeks post discharge. Trainees telephoned patients directly (self-report) and an account of patient progress was also obtained via keyworkers.


27 men and 8 women (> 18 years) who met SIGN 74 criteria for in-patient detoxification were studied. All but one wished abstinence at 6 weeks, and 29 consented to phone follow-up. 13 were discharged on disulfiram, 12 on acamprosate and 6 on baclofen. Cumulative abstinence and time to first drink were charted at 2, 4 and 6 weeks. 11 patients were totally abstinent at 6 weeks. Time to first heavy drinking, and number of heavy drinking sessions were less reliably obtained.


This study describes follow-up and immediate outcomes of treatment as usual following specialist in-patient alcohol detoxification. It will inform the proposed relapse prevention medication trial grant application, and set the stage for an ongoing database of outcomes and variables.


Lawrence, R, Ratcliffe, L, MacKenzie Medical Centre; Petrie R X A, Royal Edinburgh Hospital; Lawrence, R, Royal Edinburgh Hospital

No conflicts of interest declared.

Download full poster here.