The prevalence of alcohol dependence in burned adult patients
This study determined the prevalence of alcohol dependence in burned adult patients at the Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town and describes patterns of alcohol consumption, socioeconomic adjustment and attitudes towards drinking. The subjects of the study were patients over the age of 18 years who were admitted consecutively to the Burns unit between 21 March 1992 and 19 June 1992. Patients were screened for alcohol problems with the Michigan Alcoholism Screening rest. Thirty patients screened positively for alcohol dependence. A more comprehensive interview schedule was administered to these patients to obtain additional information. The incidence of alcohol dependence in the study group was high (57 per cent). Most patients indicated that they were regular weekend drinkers. More than half of the patients reported previous alcohol-related accidents and 57 per cent attributed their present injuries to alcohol intoxication. Ninety per cent of patients were motivated to change their drinking behaviour and 40 per cent were willing to accept some form of treatment. It was found that the burn injury represents a crisis during which treatment for alcohol problems can be introduced. The burn care team has a responsibility to address the patients' alcohol problems to prevent recurrent alcohol-related traumatic accidents.