Today, alcoholism is most frequently treated by a variety of outpatient interventions (Dhooper & Sullivan, 1986; Kurtz & Googins, 1984; Parihar & Kirchoff, 1985). The proposed study examines for differences in outpatient treatment effectiveness as a function of differences in selected demographic variables.
The general significance of the study can be understood by first recognizing that alcohol abuse is one of the most serious health problems in the United States. Individuals die either directly from the effects of alcohol abuse, or else indirectly from alcohol-related accidents, homicides, suicides, and medical disorders. Indeed, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates that one in four American families is affected adversely by alcohol problems; and, further, that one in seven adults eighteen years of age or older meet the medical and psychological criteria for alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence (NIAAA, 1984).
Given the foregoing it seems reasonable to suggest that effective treatment for the disorder is a national priority. However, maximally effective treatment will only be forthcoming when a complete understanding of the response of alcohol dependent individuals has been attained---this so that interventions can be structured to maximize positive response and minimize or extinguish negative response.
Part of attaining this complete understanding is conducting studies which aim at discovering factors which either positively or negatively effect alcohol abusers' response to treatment. By examining for differences in treatment effectiveness as a function of differences in the demographic background of alcohol abusers, this study contributes to the overall effort to better understanding the response of the alcoholic to outpatient treatment. And by contributing to this overall effort, the study also contributes to the related effort to maximize treatment for alcohol abusers.