• Article

Mortality in male alcoholics after ten to fourteen years

Objective: Alcoholics frequently die prematurely. The purpose of this study was to determine: (1) whether subjects in a sample of 360 male alcoholics, followed over a period of 10-14 years, died prematurely; (2) if so, from what causes; and (3) whether such deaths are predictable from characteristics present at initial assessment. Method: Subjects were male veterans (N = 360) with a diagnosis of alcoholism admitted to an inpatient substance abuse treatment program at the Kansas City Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center during 1980-1984 who consented to participate in intake evaluations and subsequent follow-ups at 1 year and 10-14 years later. Of the 357 (99.2%) men located at the 10-14 year follow-up, 96 (26.6%) were confirmed as deceased, 255 survivors agreed to be reassessed and 6 subjects refused reassessment. Information regarding cause of death was obtained from death certificates, VA records and other sources. Results: At intake, the subsequently deceased men were older, had less education, lower psychosocial functioning, more medical problems and greater psychiatric severity. Their overall death rate was 2.5 times greater than that of a reference group of men. Men in the 35-44 year age group were 5.5 times as likely to die. A statistical model utilizing measures of alcohol dependence to predict mortality from intake to 10-14 year follow-up indicated that alcoholics who limited drinking were half as likely to die whereas those who engaged in morning drinking were 2.5 times more likely to die. Conclusions: Alcoholic men, especially those in the group aged 35 to 44 years, have a significantly higher risk of premature death than a reference group of men. Men who engaged in morning drinking and could not limit drinking appeared to be at higher risk of mortality 10 years later.


Liskow, B. I., Powell, B. J., Penick, E. C., Nickel, E. J., Wallace, D., Landon, J. F., ... Cantrell, P. J. (2000). Mortality in male alcoholics after ten to fourteen years. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 61(6), 853-861.