Aims: to investigate a possible association of cortisol stress response during early abstention with relapse.
Methods: Thirty-six alcohol-dependent males, half of them with a comorbid anxiety disorder, and 15 healthy controls were exposed to a standardized psychosocial stress test. Thirty-one of the patients were assessed for relapse 6 weeks after discharge.
Results: The relapsers showed almost no cortisol responses in the stress test. Comorbid anxiety disorder influenced neither stress response nor relapse.
Conclusions: During early abstention from alcohol, reduced stress-responsivity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis seems to be connected to early relapse.