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January 1974

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Psychiatric AdmissionsA Multidrug Clinical-Toxicologic Study

Author Affiliations

From the Colorado Psychiatric Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Medical Center, Denver.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;30(1):13-20. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760070005001

Over one third of the adults in a psychiatric hospital had drug abuse (including alcohol) problems. The patients had fewer psychotic diagnoses, briefer hospitalizations, and less elevated Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory scores than other inpatients. Toxicologic examinations, at admission, revealed psychoactive drugs in nearly half of the patients; many test results were positive for drugs that the patients denied using.

Alcohol or sedative physical dependence was not uncommon. Alcohol contributed to one fourth of the admissions, but many patients also took other drugs. Younger and older patients drank alcohol in equal proportions.

There was no current, and very little past, narcotic physical dependence, but one fifth of patients had abused narcotics. Nonaddicting narcotic abuse was especially common among young psychedelic users. Salicylates were abused frequently. The high incidence and complex patterns of drug abuse among psychiatric inpatients demand better diagnosis, more focused treatment, and altered public and private funding policies.